Monday, March 30, 2015

The Plot Thickens - Fifth Circuit Sets April 17th Hearing on Executive Action Injunction

By now, almost everyone has heard that Federal District Judge Andrew Hanen entered a temporary injunction blocking portions of President Obama’s immigration actions from going into effect.  Specifically, an amplified version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), originally announced in June 2012, and a similar program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) are currently on hold.

It is important to note that the 2012 version of DACA has not been affected by Judge Hanen’s order.

The Obama Administration appealed the temporary injunction earlier this month.  The appeal was filed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans, LA.  This week, Fifth Circuit responded, setting arguments for Friday, April 17, 2015.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans, LA - Courtesy of Waggonner& Ball Architects

Each side will be allowed one hour to present arguments regarding why the injunction should or should not be lifted.  Hopefully, the Fifth Circuit will enter a decision on the injunction within a few weeks of the arguments.

The April 17th hearing was part of a court order granting the Obama Administration’s request to expedite the appeal of Judge Hanen’s injunction.  The administration asked Judge Hanen to lift the injunction himself; however, to this point, the judge has taken no actions except to call Department of Justice attorneys into his courtroom and threaten sanctions on the pretext they misled him about the implementation of DAPA and DACA.

In support of the injunction are 26 states, led by Texas, that filed a lawsuit alleging the programs are a constitutional overreach on the part of the president.  They argue that allowing the programs to move forward will cause them irreversible economic harm.  This despite the overwhelming majority of economists believing the actions will be an economic boom.

You might ask, what is the economic harm the states fear so much?  This is where it gets good.  Apparently, they are afraid of printing driver’s licenses for DAPA and DACA recipients.  They argue that because the state subsidizes the cost of making driver’s licenses, and the fee paid by driver’s license applicants will not be enough to cover the costs, the states will incur onerous financial costs in creating them.

Of course, the states fail to contrast the cost of printing driver’s licenses with the benefit of having thousands of drivers who previously did not have licenses licensed.  More importantly, financial harm such as the cost of driver’s licenses is the quintessential reparable harm.  If the states are worried about losing money on driver’s licenses, the solution is simple: raise the price of driver’s licenses or refuse to issue them to DAPA recipients. 

But that really does not matter, because in the end, this really is not about arriving at a solution as much as it is a political game.  A game being played with real people’s lives hanging in the balance.

NathanR. Bogart is an immigration attorney at Petty &Associates, P.C.  He works out of the firm's Dallas and Amarillo offices and focuses his practice on removal defense, asylum, and citizenship.