Even with the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February, advocates say a ruling on one of the big questions before the Supreme Court, whether Obama’s executive actions on immigration will finally go into effect, remains up in the air.
Obama’s expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and launch of a new program for undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), could provide millions of undocumented immigrants temporary relief from deportation and access to work permits.
Both programs have been on hold ever since they were announced in November 2014. Their fate now rests with the U.S. Supreme Court.
With eight justices on the court, five votes are needed to overturn an injunction put in place by a lower court, thereby allowing DACA and DAPA to move forward. In the case of a 4-4 tie, the lower court’s ruling would stand but the Supreme Court’s ruling would not be precedent.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear Texas v. United States in April and announce its decision in June. If it decides in Obama’s favor, the two programs could go into effect, possibly by late summer or early fall.
In the meantime, legal experts, advocates and DACA recipients say there are steps that families can take now to get ready for their possible implementation and take advantage of programs that are currently available.
The litigation does not affect Obama’s original DACA program announced in 2012, which remains in effect.
Residents can start gathering documents that prove they have been living continuously in the United States, he said. Those who have had contact with law enforcement can visit a trusted legal service provider to inquire about what is on their record.
Undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children should continue to apply for and renew DACA.