Lawsuit to Block Portions of President’s Executive Actions22 Dec 2014
As has been widely reported, the State of Texas has filed a lawsuit seeking to block portions of President Obama’s executive actions related to immigration. This has created some unease and confusion among foreign nationals who stand to benefit from some part of the President’s immigration plans. While it is as yet unclear whether the lawsuit will have any impact on the changes in immigration rules, it should be noted that most of the President’s plans are not being challenged, and therefore should not be impacted by this lawsuit.
President’s Announcement Stirs Debate, Prompts Lawsuit
The President’s immigration plan, which he unveiled in a televised speech on November 20, 2014, has sparked an ongoing, oftentimes contentious debate across the country. Some quarters have praised President Obama’s proposed executive actions, while others have attacked this move as an unlawful power grab. While the President’s immigration plan involves a number of different proposals, most of the debate, not to mention the pending lawsuit, focuses particular immigration benefits aimed at foreign nationals who are in the United States without lawful authorization.
Challenge on Policy for Undocumented Nationals
Texas has been joined by 17 other states to challenge the executive actions that relate to undocumented foreign nationals. Specifically, it challenges the President’s authority to create the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program and the related prosecutorial discretion policy changes. The DAPA program is tied to updated policies regarding the focus of immigration enforcement resources. President Obama argues that the nation simply does not have the resources to forcibly remove the estimated 11 million undocumented foreign nationals currently living in the United States. The President’s plans would prioritize which individuals to put into removal (i.e. deportation) proceedings, as a matter of prosecutorial discretion.
Legal Authority of President to Issue Executive Actions
The legal issues involved are complex matters of constitutional executive authority. It is a question of whether the executive actions are a change in law, which would require an act of Congress, or a change in policy, which would be within a president’s authority. The lawsuit requests that the federal government be prevented from initiating the DAPA program and prosecutorial discretion policy. It remains to be seen whether the lawsuit will be successful or have any impact on the DAPA program and related policies.
Business and Worker Programs Not Affected
It is important to understand that a challenge to one aspect or policy does not necessarily endanger unrelated changes. Accordingly, the challenges to the DACA program will not impact the business-related portions of the President’s immigration plans. The proposal to allow certain H-4 spouses to obtain employment authorization, as well as the various other proposals discussed in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, President’s Executive Actions for U.S. Businesses and Highly Skilled Workers, are not threatened by this lawsuit.
The outcome of the lawsuit, including its request for an injunction, remains uncertain. How the courts eventually rule on this issue will have a dramatic impact on the lives of thousands of foreign nationals who are living in the United States. Yet, those in the business community can rest easy that the lawsuit should not threaten any of those unrelated provisions. MurthyDotCom will provide updates regarding the pending lawsuit, as well as the other aspects of President Obama’s executive actions, as news develops.
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