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DAPA/DACA Wrap Up: Supreme Court Dealt Blow to Executive Action

In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 4 to 4 “per curiam” decision affirmed a lower-court ruling blocking implementation of two key immigration programs ordered by President Obama. The programs in dispute — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — had been on hold since a district court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction in the case in February 2015. As a result of the Supreme Court action, the injunction preventing implementation of the programs remains in place, and the district court will proceed to the merits of the case. (The decision does not affect the original DACA program, which permits certain foreign-born teenagers and young adults who were raised in the U.S. to apply for deferred status and employment authorization.) Because the decision was an affirmance by an equally divided Court, it does not carry any precedential weight, and the issue may very well reach the Justices again. Fortunately, the Department of Homeland Security will not be changing its enforcement policies because of the decision. This means that individuals who would have been eligible for DACA/DAPA will remain a low priority for deportation. Nevertheless, the decision leaves millions of immigrant families in limbo.