1443239By Jeremy Love, Immigration Attorney
April 28, 2015

While the federal government and state governments presented oral arguments to a three-judge panel at the 5th Circuit Court of appeals on April 17, an anxious crowd of thousands gathered outside the courtroom and millions others across the country waited on news of the fate of President Obama’s Executive Action.   In February, a district court judge in Texas halted Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents (DAPA) and expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which would have allowed millions of undocumented immigrants the opportunity to apply for employment authorization and protection from deportation. The federal government filed for an appeal of that decision and an emergency stay to allow the affirmative actions to begin before the appeals court hears the arguments on the merits of the case.  It is important to remember that DACA, as it was announced in 2012, is still in effect and applicants can continue to apply.  What is at stake is the 2014 announcement of DAPA and expanded DACA programs.

What happened in New Orleans on April 17?

Both the state and federal governments presented arguments on whether or not the appellate court should allow the affirmative actions to start before the Appeals Court makes a final decision on the merits of the case. 

The judges were also given the opportunity to ask questions of both sides.  The judges particularly focused on the immigration process and whether the states could show sufficient harm in order to have standing to have a claim against the federal government.

What will happen next?

A decision from the court in New Orleans will likely come in the next few weeks.  The deadline to submit arguments on the merits of the case is in mid May, so a decision on the stay will likely come before then.

If the court grants the stay, then USCIS can immediately begin preparing to accept DAPA and expanded DACA applications.  Expanded DACA would likely start very soon, while USCIS would probably need a month or two to begin accepting DAPA applications. 

Whether or not the stay is granted, an initial hearing on the merits of the case will likely come in June.  So, it may be a number of months before a final decision is made by the appellate court.

Then, either side could appeal to the Supreme Court.  The process there would take significantly longer.

What should we do now?

Continue to prepare for DAPA and expanded DACA by gathering documents showing proof of presence in the US since 2009.  Now is also a good time to renew your passports if they are expired or are expiring soon.

While it is possible that the court process could drag out for months, it is a distinct possibility that USCIS could begin accepting applications as soon as this summer.

Remember to consult a qualified, experienced immigration attorney regarding your immigration case.  You deserve nothing less.