The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been forced to delay accepting expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications after a federal district judge temporarily blocked both it and the Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. The expanded DACA program was to take effect on February 18, 2015. DAPA was slated to begin in May.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, in Texas, ruled late Monday night to block executive actions Obama took late last year to shield as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Judge Hanen halted Obama's executive action, ruling that the administration had failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act, which calls for the White House to afford a longer notification and comment period before taking action. The ruling was issued in a lawsuit filed by 26 U.S. states seeking to bar the Obama Administration from certain executive actions on immigration.
The DHS immediately issued a statement confirming that they intended to appeal the decision, but would comply with it while an appeal is pending.
Secretary Johnson stated that
"...the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned. Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for DAPA.
The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority. Our actions will also benefit the economy and promote law enforcement. We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do."
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.