As the U.S. Supreme Court announces that it will hear the case on whether to allow President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration to go forward, Kerry Bretz, Partner, Bretz & Coven, LLP, is available for comment on the Court’s decision to hear the case and its potential impact on immigrant families and the prospect of immigration reform.
On January 19, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear a legal challenge to President Obama’s decision to overhaul the nation’s immigration rules. The president issued an executive order on November 20, 2014 to create a program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which would allow as many as five million illegal immigrants who are parents of citizens or legal permanent residents to apply for a program that would provide them with work permits and prevent them from being deported.
“Deferred action is an administrative grace that has been used with discretion by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for many years,” Mr. Bretz says. “The president, with his executive action, merely expanded these deferred actions to specific classes of non-citizens who meet various criteria.”
Soon after the program was announced, a group of 26 states led by the state of Texas filed a lawsuit accusing the president of not following the proper procedures when making the rule change and abuse of power when he sidestepped Congress with his executive action. In February 2015, the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas ordered a preliminary injunction, closing down DAPA. The government appealed but, on November 9, 2015, a three-judge panel of the U.S Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, of New Orleans, Louisiana upheld the lower court.
The Supreme Court has broadened the scope asking both sides to address the question of whether the Obama administration violated the constitutional requirement that the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Mr. Bretz says this piece of immigration reform is sorely needed. “This executive order was bold in its scope,” Mr. Bretz says. “However, due to the breakdown in immigration law and Congress’ inability to enact reform legislation, these executive actions were needed to deal with the realities confronting our institutions.”
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