The Supreme Court Decision Re: DAPA – What Does It Mean?

By Kisshia Simmons, Esq.

In a recent Supreme Court decision regarding Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), the Supreme Court decided in the following few short words: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”  In those few words, the Supreme Court refused to act, further blocking undocumented immigrants from receiving relief.

What exactly, does this decision mean? The Supreme Court was set to adjudicate whether President Obama properly exercised his executive power in creating DAPA.  Many individuals awaited the roll out for DAPA and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services was prepared to adjudicate applications.  A lower court ruling blocked the action based on an injunction from individuals questioning the President’s ability to create such a plan.  The Supreme Court did not strike down the lower court’s injunction, which means that DAPA continues to remain dormant.

Many individuals who have entered the US through the border or are currently in the US without immigration status have patiently waited for the US to act.  The decision will now leave these individuals without a legal remedy.  DAPA would have changed the lives of many individuals who are currently without any form of immigration relief.  An estimated 4 million individuals who have lived in the US since 2010 and who have US born children possibly could have been eligible to apply for DAPA.

Successfully applying for DAPA meant that eligible individuals could receive work authorization and be free of the fear of deportation. President Obama in a press release explained that the decision was “heartbreaking.”  He further explained that the decision would further leave potentially qualified individuals “unable to contribute to the US in a meaningful way.”  With authorized employment immigrants can more easily provide for themselves and their families.  Further, individuals are able to send money back home.  Both will produce less strain on the US economy and allow for taxation of applicants.  Individuals could also eventually serve in the US military.  The benefits are apparent and with the growing undocumented population, our current state of existing without some viable immigration strategy must be remedied.  Unfortunately, now we must continue to wait longer to fix the ever-growing problem.

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