1617737Paul Sloderbeck, Immigration Attorney
May 12, 2015

Concerned community members travelled to New Orleans on April 17 to show their support for President Obama’s Executive Action implementing the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program (DAPA), which promised to bring relief to so many. Now, people across the nation are anxiously awaiting a decision from the three judge panel for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that heard arguments on the legality of DAPA that day.

What exactly are we waiting for?

Two things. First, we are waiting for a decision from the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit about whether DAPA can move forward while the Court makes a final decision on the merits of the program. This would allow USCIS to begin accepting applications for DAPA, perhaps within the next month or so.

Allowing the program to move forward before the court decides the case on the merits would be an extraordinary move, but it is a possibility. This would likely be a very good sign for DAPA’s chance of implementation and success.

Second, we are waiting for another hearing from the Fifth Circuit on the merits of the challenge to DAPA. The court will decide whether Texas and the other States challenging DAPA (including Alabama) are able to bring this challenge. It will also decide whether DAPA was implemented with the proper procedure.

What if the Court doesn’t allow DAPA to begin?

If the Court doesn’t allow DAPA to begin while it is waiting on the merits hearing, there is no need to be alarmed. The Court may just decide to wait for the second hearing, which could come in June. After this hearing it could take another month for a final decision, which might allow DAPA to begin.

If the Court allows DAPA to begin, Texas and the other states challenging it could still appeal their case to the Supreme Court. If it is not allowed to begin, the Obama administration could also appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. This could put the fate of the program in limbo for many more months.

What can I do in the meantime?

Remember that another part of the November announcement from last year was new enforcement priorities. People who haven’t been convicted of a significant crime, who don’t have a recent removal order, and have been here for over a year may argue that they are not enforcement priorities.

If you do come into contact with ICE, you can ask for prosecutorial discretion. You can send a letter to ICE explaining why you are not an enforcement priority, and ask other people to write letters on your behalf. Tell them not to spend resources continuing your deportation because you are not a priority under the new guidelines.

You can begin gathering your documents for DAPA. Organize folders for each year (2010-2015) with documents that show you were here in the United States. These can be paystubs, bills, receipts, records of Doctor Visits, or even Facebook posts with your location.

You can also begin saving for the filing fee of $465 and any attorney fees for help in preparing the application. Anyone who has been arrested or has been in immigration removal proceedings will need to obtain a copy of their file.