Amnesty Updates

5th Circuit Upholds Injunction of Obama’s Executive Amnesty -- What that Means

Nov 10, 2015  |  Permalink |   |  

On November 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit struck a major blow to President Obama’s amnesty agenda. In a 2-1 decision in Texas v. U.S., the court upheld federal district judge Andrew Hanen’s February injunction which blocked the Obama administration from implementing its latest executive amnesty. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Feb. 18, 2015) FAIR provides the following answers to your likely questions about the case so you can fully understand its impact.

Q: What is an injunction?

A: An injunction is a judicial order that restrains a party from taking a particular course of action.

Q: Which amnesty programs does this injunction stop?

A: This case involves the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty programs that President Obama announced on November 20, 2014. To see the eligibility criteria the Obama administration established for these amnesty programs, click here. 

Q: What about the original DACA program?
A: Unfortunately, this case does not include the original DACA program from 2012. That means that illegal aliens who meet that set of eligibility criteria continue to receive deferred action from removal plus work authorization. Therefore, the
DACA program continues to grant a two-year reprieve from deportation and work authorization to aliens who:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the U.S. before reaching their 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007;
  • Have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of application;
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
  • Are at least 15 years or old at the time of application.
(See FAIR Legislative Update, June 19, 2012; see also DACA Guidelines).

Q: What’s the next step?
A: The Obama administration announced on November 10 that it plans to appeal the Fifth Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will hear the appeal.

Q: If the Supreme Court declines, is the case over?
A: No, this case will likely be litigated even after President Obama leaves office. The injunction only blocks implementation of the amnesty programs until the case’s merits are litigated. Once the appeals of the injunction are over, the case returns to Judge Hanen to determine whether the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to unilaterally grant deferred action and work authorization to millions of illegal aliens without Congressional approval. It is widely expected that whichever side loses on the merits in Judge Hanen’s court will appeal the decision to the Fifth Circuit.