Frontera Fund News

Lawsuit Could Unlock DAPA and DACA+ in Certain States

Written by Carmen Cornejo

After the Supreme Court arrived at a split 4-4 decision in U.S. v. Texas, immigrant rights advocates have been looking for solutions to unlock DAPA and expanded DACA. The immigrant community has been waiting anxiously for a solution, especially those who would benefit from the executive actions: undocumented parents of citizens or legal residents, and undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children but were left out of the 2012 DACA program.

DACA+ would give DREAMers a work permit and relief from deportation for three years instead of two. In fact, some DACA DREAMers who renewed their permits just after the announcement of DAPA and DACA+ were granted a three-year permit by USCIS. However, within weeks, Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the federal district court in Southern Texas blocked the actions.

The federal government used the judge’s injunction to revoke three-year work permits issued to thousands of DACA recipients, including a man named Martin Batalla Vidal.

Vidal may provide the solution the immigrant community is waiting for. Earlier this year, the New York resident filed a lawsuit against the lower court decision alleging that Judge Hanen’s order was too broad and not binding in New York, and that the president’s program should proceed.

“The government itself has said the judge in Texas lacked jurisdiction to apply for his injunction here in New York,” said Will Bloom, a law student intern in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. “Judge Hanen has confused Brownsville, Texas, with Brownsville, Brooklyn.”

Judge Hanen’s main argument is the claim that Texas would incur costs while issuing driver’s licenses to deferred action recipients. The suit went to the Supreme Court, resulting in an un-decision that underscored the problem of having eight Supreme Court Justices instead of nine, after Antonin Scalia’s death this past February.

The deadlock allowed the actions of the lower courts to stay in place, causing pain in the immigrant community. Immigrants saw these executive actions as remedies against deportation separation, as well as an opportunity to bring a better future for immigrant families. 

If the lawsuit is successful, it could reinstate both initiatives in some parts of the country, providing relief for millions of families, and lengthening the renewal time for DACA-DREAMers like Batalla Vidal. An estimated 60 percent of the potential DAPA and DACA+ beneficiaries live outside of Texas and the states that joined the anti-immigrant lawsuit.