As discussed in this blog over the past several months, the Obama Administration has been working to implement an expanded Deferred Action program for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and a new program to grant deferred action to certain eligible parents of U.S. citizens (DAPA). For a brief explanation of these two benefits, click here.
Unfortunately, these two programs have hit some bumps in the road. The state of Texas, along with 25 other states, filed a lawsuit at the beginning of this year in order to block President Obama's executive actions on immigration. Shortly after, Texas Southern District Court Judge Andrew Hanen issued an injunction, blocking the implementation of both the DAPA and expanded DACA programs during the pendency of the lawsuit.
Due to the injunction, the expanded DACA program, which was on track to start in February, and DAPA, which was expected to begin in May, are both currently at a standstill. Attorneys for the Government have moved for Judge Hanen to lift the injunction while they appeal his decision, and are expected to argue their case at a hearing on March 19.
While the future of DAPA and expanded DACA are still uncertain, potential beneficiaries should not lose hope. There is a very good argument that Obama's executive actions were constitutional, and that even if the injunction is not lifted, the Texas lawsuit will ultimately fail. While the lawsuit may delay the programs significantly, it is still very possible that they will be deemed to be constitutional and allowed to go forward.
Continue to gather and save your documents, and speak to an attorney to evaluate your eligibility. Those who qualify for expanded DACA and DAPA should still prepare to file for benefits by gathering their identity and family documents, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, and school and financial records, and continuing to save all documents that help prove their presence in the United States. Individuals who are unsure whether they qualify would still benefit from speaking to an immigration attorney.
Potential beneficiaries should not yet pay to apply for these programs specifically. It is always a good idea to hire an immigration attorney to evaluate your eligibility for benefits, especially if you have a criminal history or complex immigration history. However, the expanded DACA and DAPA programs are not yet accepting applications, and their future is still uncertain, so potential applicants should not pay anyone to apply for these programs specifically just yet.
Please check this site frequently for more updates on DAPA and expanded DACA.
Bean + Lloyd is an immigration law office in Oakland, California emphasizing family-based immigration, citizenship, removal defense and deferred action.
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