Court of Appeals Hears DAPA and DACA Case

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans today heard oral arguments on the blockade to the implementation of President Obama's immigration executive actions.

The hearing, which lasted approximately two and a half hours, was to evaluate an appeal by the U.S. Department of Justice of the decision by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas to block the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, both announced by the President in November of last year, from going into effect.

During the hearing, Benjamin Mizer, representing the Department of Justice, argued several legal points, including that Texas does not have jurisdiction over immigration policy, which is the federal government's alone. He also asserted that President Obama's immigration executive actions do not require prior notice and opportunity for public comment before implementation.

But Scott Keller, the attorney representing Texas, asserted that giving legal status to undocumented immigrants will be a very costly economic burden for the state.specifically noting the costs of providing driver's licenses, education and health care for immigrants who obtain legal status, albeit temporary.

The judges Jennifer Elrodnominated by President George W. Bush, Jerry Smithnominated by Ronald Reagan, and Stephen HigginsonObama's nominee, are presiding over the case.

The judges ended the hearing without issuing a ruling. They did not indicate how long it will take them to analyze the case.

Judge Hanen issued the preliminary injunction on February 16 that blocked the implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA, after Texas and 25 other states filed a lawsuit alleging that President Obama's executive actions are unconstitutional.

Had it not been for the blockade, the measures would have gone into effect on February 18, benefiting approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants nationwide.

The Fifth Circuit judges' decision is not the end point in the DAPA and DACA expansion case. Judge Hanen is still analyzing the constitutionality of President Obama's executive actions. Once he rules, it will likely be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.