SCOTUS Hears Oral Argument in U.S. v. Texas.

On April 18th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in U.S. v. Texas, a case brought by 26 states a case challenging President Obama’s November 2014 executive action on immigration known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Plus (expanded DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The Obama administration’s expansion of DACA and implementation of DAPA initiatives were stopped by a federal district court in Texas from going into effect in February 2015 , and that court’s order subsequently was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit last Fall. Late last year the federal government appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

The oral arguments largely focused on the question of standing - whether the states like Texas have a legal stake or suffered an “injury” to even bring the case in the first place. The federal government contended that Texas cannot claim that their subsidy for issuance of drivers licenses to DAPA recipients constitutes an “injury,” since the State chose to allow those with deferred action to qualify for a license. Justice Breyer highlighted the deeply political nature of the dispute over the deferred action initiatives, by asking whether Texas’ standing theory might expand standing doctrine to “every case of political disagreement where States disagree”.

LatinoJustice as part of a diverse coalition of 326 immigration, civil rights, labor, and social service groups had on March 8, 2016 filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief urging the court to lift the injunction that blocked the executive actions on immigration that President Obama announced in November 2014. In the brief, the groups outline how families and communities would benefit from the initiatives and provides examples of parents and individuals who would be able to contribute more fully to their communities if the immigration initiatives were allowed to take effect. “If the injunction is lifted, many families will be more secure, without the looming threat that loved ones will be deported at a moment’s notice,” the brief filed by the civil rights groups argues. “Many deserving individuals will also have access to better jobs and the ability to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities. DHS has discretion to grant or deny applications for the initiatives at issue, and the concocted argument to the contrary should not be used to prevent individuals from even applying.” The full legal brief is available here.

“This is a suspect legal challenge brought by Texas with support from states like Florida, Alabama, and New Jersey which seeks to tear apart immigrant families,” said Juan Cartagena, LatinoJustice PRLDEF President and General Counsel. “The president has clear legal authority on this matter. The purpose of the president’s action is to help immigrant families, many of which have mixed status, come from out of the shadows. Texas and these other states need to get out of the way and let the president do his job.”

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