United States Immigration Series
Post No. 10
Francisco A. Laguna & Annapurna Nandyal
Today’s post continues our prior discussion of the Obama Adminstration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.
In November 2014, as part of the Immigration Accountability Executive Action, the Obama Administration announced the expansion of the existing 2012 DACA program and introduced the DAPA program.
DACA was expanded by removing the upper age limit which previsously excluded persons older than 31 on the date of announcement (i.e., those born before June 15, 1981) from applying for the program. DACA will now apply to all eligible immigrants who entered the US before the age of 16, regardless of how old they are now. The second benefit of expanding the DACA program is increasing the term of the employment authorization to three-year increments, rather than two years. Finally, the eligibility cut-off date by which a DACA applicant must be in US was extended from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010.
Obama’s executive action has resulted in a multi-state lawsuit filed in a Texas federal court to block the immigration order from taking effect. The case, Texas v. United States, has 26 states challenging Obama’s immigration order by contending that the President overstepped his constitutional authority by acting unilaterally. The plaintiffs argue that the executive actions are in violation of Take Care Clause of the US Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) as there was no formal notice-and-comment procedure. In addition, the plaintiffs claim that the stay from deportation of the undocumented immigrants who would benefit under the DACA and DAPA programs would place an undue economic and financial burden on the states. The Texas federal court ruled in favor of plaintiffs and halting implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA pending further judicial review.
However, the court’s preliminary injunction does not prevent USCIS from accepting applications under the original 2012 DACA program. The federal government appealed the Texas court ruling before the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. Oral arguments were held July 10th 2015 is set for oral arguments. The case has the potential to land in the Supreme Court by next year.
This landmark case has divided the nation cutting across sections of the society, and the recent anti-Mexican immigrant rants from Donald Trump have deepened that division. Though half of the US states have opposed the reforms, many support the implementation of DAPA and DACA. Proponents of the case include 15 states and District of Columbia, besides many immigration rights groups, businesses and trade associations. They have filed “amicus curie” or “friend of the court” briefs touting the economic, electoral and, most importantly, family benefits these immigration reforms could bring.
Recent studies by independent agencies, like the Council of Economic Advisers, show DAPA and DACA reforms would bring substantial benefits to the states and nation, as a whole. Under these programs, certain immigrants are granted work permits which would lead to higher wages, opportunities to find jobs that match the immigrants’ abilities, greater economic productivity and greater tax revenues. By implementing DAPA alone, there would be an increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by between $90 and $210 billion in 2024. There would be also roughly 21,000 jobs per year created over the next 10 years, and payroll taxes would increase by $16.7 billion over next 5 years.
The Obama’s Administration’s main purpose for introducing DAPA and DACA is to provide immediate relief to families who would no longer live in fear that their loved ones could be detained or deported at any time. It provides much needed family stability to undocumented immigrants in the US and would also allow their children, many US citizens, to grow up in the US. Studies estimate that approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants would benefit by reuniting with their families.Apart from the economic gains to the nation, DAPA and DACA have key electoral implications. Many who are eligible for the DAPA program are Latino and Asian immigrants who could form a significant voting block during the 2016 presidential elections. These voters could affect election results, especially in swing states.
As the debate over the pros and cons of DAPA and DACA continues, the presidential candidates for 2016 election should clearly articulate their position on these executive reforms in a meaning manner. The current hate speech is neither helpful nor constructive: it does nothing to find permanent solution to fix our immigration laws.
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