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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: What Is It and What Happens Next

On June 15, 2012, the President issued an executive action called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status. In November of 2014 President Obama announced an expanded DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) which would have protected the parents of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents from deportation, allowing them to live and work in the US with temporary permission. 26 States filed suit and an injunction was entered in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas. Texas’ challenge to President Obama’s deferred action programs has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

The injunction does not affect the current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the USCIS continues to accept and renew requests for deferred action.

A key point the court will review is whether or not President Obama exceeded his executive power with the deferred action programs. “There are limits to the President’s authority, and those limits enacted by Congress were exceeded when the President, in a unilateral way, sought to grant lawful presence to more than four million unauthorized aliens who are in this country unlawfully,” says Teresa Farfan, a spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General’s office.

The Justices will also evaluate if Obama is abiding by the “Take Care” clause of the Constitution. That clause establishes that the President will take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

The US Department of Justice, which will represent the federal government, and the Texas Attorney General’s office, will present oral arguments to the Supreme Court of the United State justices in April. It is anticipated that the decision will be announced by the end of June 2016.

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