Court refuses to lift block on immigration Executive Action

By a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans today refused to vacate Judge Andrew Hanen's February order temporarily suspending the implementation of immigration relief ordered by President Obama's executive action.

Federal judges Jerry Edwin Smith and Jennifer Walker Elrod voted for the blockade to remain in place, while the judge Stephen Andrew Higginson voted to stand up.

That means that the expansion of DACA - the deferred action for childhood arrivals and DAPA - the new deferred action program for parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, will continue to be unable to be implemented pending the resolution of a lawsuit filed by 26 states arguing that implementation of these programs would be a detrimental economic burden.

A month after hearing oral arguments in the case, the Court of Appeals found that the 26 states, led by Texas, had sufficient legal grounds to move forward with the lawsuit.

In the 70-page opinion, two judges specifically noted that Texas demonstrated that it would incur significant costs to issue driver's licenses to approximately 4 million undocumented immigrants in the state.

Since of the 26 states only Texas was able to present evidence that implementation of the programs would harm them economically, the federal government requested that the block be maintained for that state. But the Court rejected the request, arguing that it was only necessary for a state to present evidence in order to proceed with the lawsuit.

The Court also found that the Department of Justice, which appealed the block, failed to demonstrate that a delay in the implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA would be detrimental to the Government as it pursues the lawsuit in Federal District Court.

Today's ruling does not mean that the case is lost. The Department of Justice can still continue the appeals process, and it is possible that the case could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This process is likely to take a long time, possibly even years before it is resolved. In the meantime, immigrants should explore other legal options. I recommend that they consult with an immigration attorney.