On November 20, 2014 President Barrack Obama took a bold step, hoping to bring relief to millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Using Executive Orders, Mr. Obama implemented what is called the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). The measure touted as a dream for illegal immigrants now looks more like a nightmare.
Deferred Action means there would be a hold on deportation of certain categories of undocumented immigrants for a limited time, luring them out of the shadows into the mainstream. The action is described as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion but in reality it seems moored to humanitarian discretion. Deferred Action for Parental Accountability is intended to keep families to together and avoid the dread and despair caused by uprooting and separating families through deportation.
Deportation is the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws with a harsh and inhumane component for which the United States has long sought to find a balance, air-brushing with a touch of humanity. A New York Times article calling for immigration detention centers to be scrapped, notes that the system breeds cruelty, and squanders taxpayer money.
Deferred Action for Parental Accountability Remains in Limbo
Despite the fanfare and great promise you have been hearing about, Obama’s Executive Action is in limbo and may never deliver the dream illegal immigrants are expecting. In February 2015 a Texas judge issued an injunction that brought a halt to the program, calling it an executive overreach, and on May 26, 2015 the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decided to keep the injunction in place. The New York Times reports that the Fifth Circuit judges believe Mr. Obama’s lawyers would ultimately lose in their efforts to defend the president’s actions. This is NOT the end of the matter but it is an indication that Deferred Action for Parental Accountability may never become a reality under Obama’s presidency.
You should bear in mind that the Appeals Court decision is NOT final. A final ruling will come after oral arguments on the merits, scheduled for early July 2015. This will pave the way for a final ruling on the merits in the summer of 2015. As the New York Times points out, a ruling this summer is not likely to be the end of the matter. A Supreme Court challenge is almost certain. A Supreme Court decision is NOT likely before June of 2016. Deferred Action for Parental Accountability would therefore, remain under a cloud of uncertainty for at least another year.
There is also uncertainty about the fate of deferred Action for Parental Accountability after the 2016 presidential election. Republican presidential candidates promise to reverse the executive action while the leading contender for the Democrats, Hilary Clinton, promises to uphold it. Scrapping Deferred Action for Parental Accountability after implementation could result in a nightmare scenario for applicants.
Five Reasons Why Deferred Action Could be a Nightmare
No Guarantee Program Would be Renewed: Deferred Action creates uncertainties for undocumented immigrant since it is NOT a permanent fix. There is no guarantee the program will be renewed or what will happen after it expires.
Fear May Deter Documented Immigrants: Uncertainty may deter undocumented immigrants who have melted into the cracks of the United States from coming forward for temporary relief.
Scrutiny Could Extend to Family Members: Scrutiny of an applicant may result in scrutiny of the rest of the applicant’s family. The Huffington Post points out that “Parental accountability” could turn into “family accountability.”
Fear of Deportation if Program terminated: There has been NO indication of whether those who are bold enough to step forward under the pending Deferred Action scheme would be granted some form of amnesty if the program is terminated.
No End Game: As attractive as it sounds, Deferred Action does NOT offer an end-game. It is a breath of hope and a moment of pause in the despair of people whose lives are in limbo but in the end it leaves in limbo those who are in limbo.
To ultimately succeed and make a meaningful contribution to the immigration landscape in the United States Deferred Action for Parental Accountability must walk a step further and shine a light at the end of the tunnel.
Vivian M. Williams is a New York State and Federal attorney. For consultation on immigration related matters call 212-561-5312 or email firstname.lastname@example.org