Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly signed a memorandum to rescind The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA); this was one the Obama Administration’s immigration actions in 2014. DAPA was proposed as an extension of the already popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). When the executive response to expand DACA and introduced DAPA in 2014, it was not as favorably received.
When DAPA was proposed in 2014, 26 states challenged the program led by Texas in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. There’s no better place to challenge an immigration action than in the Fifth Circuit who has a history of anti-immigration judgments. The judgment from the Southern District Court was appealed to the Appellate level but was firmly upheld in the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court in New Orleans. That was November of 2015. On April 18, 2016, the case was heard by the Supreme Court, who at the time only had 8 Justices, The Court ended with a deadlock of 4-4 and the program known as DAPA, stalled out. Immigration attorneys, and 4-5 million undocumented immigrants, and policymakers in the Obama Administration were holding out for the confirmation of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, who would break the deadlock in favor of DAPA. DAPA was a war fought on two fronts, on the front line, DAPA was being fought on the steps of the Judiciary, which was now stalled. Whichever party GOP vs. Democrats were able to control the confirmation of the next Supreme Court Justice would control the future of DAPA. The Democrats had history and law on their side, which said that if there is an empty seat on the Supreme Court, the acting president may announce his nominee and the nominee would be vetted and confirmed through the Senate. But with the GOP controlling the majority in the Senate, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnel was able to stall out the Senate confirmation hearings in time for the 2016 Presidential Election. The second front: 2016 Presidential Election, a battle between heavy favorite Hilary Clinton and newcomer Donald J. Trump.
When Secretary Hilary Clinton improbably lost to Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential election, any hopes of confirming of Merrick Garland seemed all but forfeited. On January 31, 2017, President Trump announced his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
With Neil Gorsuch officially confirmed to the Supreme Court on June 15, 2017, the current administration feels that “there is [no] credible path forward [in the courts]” for DAPA, hence its rescission. The rescission should not be confused with an abolishment or repeal of a law. DAPA was never law; the DHS is merely saying that the fight for DAPA is dead.
What does this mean for undocumented documents? Nothing has changed concerning status quo. However, this does cut down on possible reliefs for undocumented immigrants, does not bode well for future protections for undocumented immigrants. The only good news is that it seems the DHS is not going to touch DACA or the other 2014 Immigration Executive Actions by the Obama Administration.