Update on Administrative Relief (DAPA and DACA)
By Alexandra Gillett, Staff Attorney for Justice for Our Neighbors West Michigan
On Monday, April 18th, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the lawsuit against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, known as DAPA and Expanded DACA.
Texas and 25 other states, including Michigan, have challenged the authority of President Obama to sign these executive actions establishing DAPA and Expanded DACA. The Supreme Court could have a decision on the case, Texas vs. United States, as early as June, which could affect approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
The DAPA and Expanded DACA programs would give temporary deportation relief and work permits to certain individuals who do not pose a threat to the U.S. Specifically, DACA grants “deferred action” for undocumented individuals who arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16 years old. DAPA similarly grants deferred action for undocumented individuals with children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. DACA and DAPA do not provide a path to a green card or citizenship. Their purpose is to keep families together by stopping deportations of individuals who are not a threat to the U.S.
Currently, Expanded DACA and DAPA are not available because the lawsuit has blocked their implementation. The original form of DACA is still available and can currently be applied for.
The states’ arguments in Texas v. United States depart from past precedent. Every U.S. president since 1956 has granted temporary immigration relief to one or more groups in need of assistance. Additionally, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the President has executive authority to shape immigration law and to exercise prosecutorial discretion.
Even though 26 states in this lawsuit are fighting DAPA and Expanded DACA, there is still wide-spread support for the policies. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia, plus 116 mayors and county officials (including those of East Lansing, MI; several cities and counties in Texas; New Orleans, LA; Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; Los Angeles, CA; and New York City) have demonstrated their support through amicus briefs urging the Supreme court to allow the initiatives. Others who have filed briefs in support include: 326 immigrants’ rights, civil rights, labor, and social service organizations; 225 members of Congress; 51 chiefs of police and sheriffs; and numerous other broadly-ranging organizations and leaders.
Organizations in Michigan have been rallying to keep the public’s attention on the case and urge the Supreme Court to hear and decide the case in favor of DAPA and Expanded DACA. Press conferences and demonstrations across the state have been held with speakers from different backgrounds, including DACA recipients and DAPA-eligible individuals, promoting the benefit of these programs and the need for immigration reform.
Now, Michigan United is organizing a March in Washington D.C. on April 18, the day that the Supreme Court hears oral arguments. The organization will send buses from Detroit, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids to transport people who want to march through the nation’s capital to defend these actions and to keep families together.