The Supreme Court's tie in the DAPA and DACA expansion case marked a defeat for millions of immigrants, but not the end of the legal battle.
In my column This week's Consulta Migratoria® I answer a reader's question about the Supreme Court's ruling and explain why they should not despair.
Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the individual's immigration history. Please consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any proceedings.
This is the column:
I heard that the Supreme Court tied in its vote on blocking DAPA and DACA 2. What does this mean? I have DACA. Does the decision affect me? -Iris S.
Iris, that's right. Sadly, the eight justices of the U.S. Supreme Court tied in their vote in United States v. Texas, which argued the legality of President Obama's executive actions on immigration.
That means that the decision of the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, which reaffirmed the blocking of the implementation of DAPA - the deferred action program for parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and the expansion of DACA - the deferred action for young childhood arrivals - stands.
It is important to emphasize that the federal court's block only affects the expansion of DACA, or as some call it, "DACA 2," not the original program.
The government continues to accept applications for initial enrollment and re-enrollment in the DACA program, implemented in 2012.
The tie in the Supreme Court does not mean the end of the case. When federal Judge Andrew Hanen blocked the implementation of DAPA and DACA expansion in February 2015, it was to give the state of Texas the opportunity to move forward with a lawsuit accusing President Barack Obama of overstepping his authority with his executive actions on immigration, and whose implementation would cause economic harm to Texas and other states.
Now, the federal district court in Texas will continue with the trial to determine the validity of these measures and will later issue its ruling. It is possible that this decision will be appealed by the losing party until it again reaches the U.S. Supreme Court. The litigation could take one to two years.
What to do during the DAPA freeze and DACA expansion
Beware of scammers!
Desperation to obtain immigration relief in the United States often causes immigrants to seek help from people who promise to get them legal status. Be very careful, because there are unscrupulous people who take advantage of the needs of others.
As long as the blockade continues, no application for DAPA or DACA expansion can be filed. If someone offers to register them immediately, it is a scam and they should report it to the authorities to prevent them from harming someone else.
Consult with an immigration attorney
Many undocumented immigrants were relying on the implementation of DAPA and expansion of DACA as their salvation, without finding out if they had a more permanent alternative.
Unfortunately, there are thousands of undocumented immigrants who have no other avenue to obtain an immigration benefit. But there are those who do have options, either through family-based petitions, employment-based petitions or special programs such as NACARA and the U visa.
That is why it is important to go to a licensed and experienced immigration attorney who can analyze your situation and find out if you have any recourse to stay and work legally in the country.
Do not go to notaries, immigration consultants, paper fillers or multiservices, as by law, these people are not authorized to give legal advice and could make your case worse.
Remain optimistic that immigration reform will be passed or temporary immigration relief will be implemented.
Here are some tips on how to prepare:
Maintain good moral conduct - Avoid legal problems. Do not plead guilty to any crime without first talking to an immigration lawyer. The government analyzes a person's criminal history before granting an immigration benefit.
Doing your taxes - If you have worked and earned money in the United States, the government requires you to pay taxes. If you do not file an annual return, you may be adversely affected when applying for an immigration benefit.
Maintain proof that you have lived in the U.S. - Depending on the immigration benefit, the federal government will most likely require the immigrant to prove their stay in the United States. Keep documents such as children's birth certificates, school records, rent receipts, mortgage payments, car loans, and telephone payments.
Saving for immigration expenses - It is almost certain that any relief or benefit through immigration reform will require the payment of fines for living in the country illegally and filing fees. Because of the complexity of the process, you will have to hire and pay the fees of an immigration attorney or a federally accredited representative to handle the process.