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Q:  I heard that the Supreme Court is reviewing President Obama’s DAPA & DACA programs.  What is the timeline for a decision?

A:  You’re right — the Supreme Court has agreed to review the decision of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in US v. Texas, the case that affirmed the injunction against President Obama’s 2014 Executive Action on Immigration.  The injunction put a stop to the implementation of the DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and the expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) programs.  It was a step in the right direction that the Supreme Court accepted the case for review.  As for the timeline, oral arguments are scheduled for April 18th.  A final decision from the Court is due by the end of June.

Many have been wondering how the recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia will affect the outcome of the case.  It is important to note that Justice Scalia’s death has not resulted in any delay because the Court conducts business as usual even with a vacant seat.  The most significant impact of his death is that it leaves the Court with only 8 Justices and the possibility of a 4-4 decision.  In the event that this happens, the 5th Circuit decision affirming the injunction would stand but would only be binding on the states in that jurisdiction (Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi).  In this scenario, the Administration could implement DAPA/expanded DACA in the other states.  Additionally, the Court could decide to revisit the decision in its next session when the vacancy has been filled.

That being said, there is still hope for a 5-3 decision in favor of lifting the injunction and giving the Obama Administration the green light to implement the programs.  Experts believe that 4 of the 8 Justices are in favor of this (Breyer, Ginsberg, Kagan, and Sotomayor), 2 are against it (Alito, Thomas), and 2 Justices are viewed as “swing” voters (Kennedy, Roberts).  The fate of the programs therefore largely depends on what these two Justices decide.

To clarify, the DACA program referred to here is an expansion of the existing DACA program which was implemented in 2012 and still exists today.  Individuals who qualify under the original 2012 DACA program can continue to file applications for initial registration as well as renewals with USCIS.  It is only the 2014 expanded DACA program that has been halted pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case.

It is important to spread the word that the DAPA/expanded DACA programs have not been implemented.  At this point, we don’t know if and when they will be.  People should beware of scam artists in the immigrant community telling them otherwise.  IIIC attorneys are closely monitoring all developments from the Supreme Court and will continue to keep the community updated as soon as important information rolls in.

If you have questions about DAPA, DACA or any other immigration issue, please visit one of our legal clinics advertised weekly in the Emigrant for a free, confidential consultation.

Disclaimer:  These articles are published to inform generally, not to advise in individual cases.  US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Department of State frequently amend regulations and alter processing and filing procedures.  For legal advice seek the assistance of IIIC immigration legal staff.