Divided Fifth Circuit Denies Emergency Stay as Underlying Case on Immigration Action Proceeds

Divided Fifth Circuit Denies Emergency Stay as Underlying Case on Immigration Action Proceeds

May 26, 2015

Washington D.C. - In a disappointing decision, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the federal government’s request for an emergency stay of a preliminary injunction that has temporarily stopped President Obama’s deferred action initiatives from being implemented.

The court's order keeps in place the hold on implementation of these initiatives while the Fifth Circuit considers the appeal of the preliminary injunction itself. The Fifth Circuit will hear argument on the appeal in early July. The deferred action initiatives, announced last November, include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and could provide as many as 4 to 5 million immigrants with a temporary relief from deportation.

In the meantime, the underlying case is pending in the district court in Brownsville, TX before Judge Andrew Hanen. The case is still in the early stages of discovery. 

A similar suit challenging the President's actions filed by Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was dismissed by a Washington, D.C., federal court at the end of last year. It is currently on appeal before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The following is a statement by Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council:

“Today’s 2-1 decision is indefensible, and we remain confident that the majority’s legal reasoning will not stand. The federal courts have long recognized that the Executive Branch has authority to set enforcement priorities, that is, to exercise prosecutorial discretion, just like all other law enforcement agencies. In fact, since at least 1956, every U.S. President has granted temporary immigration relief from deportation.  

“Judge Stephen A. Higginson, in his dissent, got it right when he called out the ‘political nature of this dispute’ and argued that the courts have no role to play here. The courts simply cannot be a venue for anyone who disagrees with a President’s policy choice. The district court in Washington, D.C., understood this when it promptly dismissed Sheriff Arpaio’s similar suit challenging DACA and DAPA. To create a precedent that would allow state politicians to challenge a federal immigration decision they disagreed with, based on the fact that they might have to issue a driver’s license to the beneficiary of that policy, is absurd and unworkable. 

“Every day that DAPA and expanded DACA implementation is delayed is a day in which families are forced to live in uncertainty and under the constant threat of possible deportation. Delaying implementation also means delaying substantial economic benefits to our country. The overwhelming weight of the evidence clearly indicates that DAPA and expanded DACA will increase Gross Domestic Product, reduce the federal deficit, and raise both tax revenue and average wages.  

“Finally, today’s decision serves as reminder that broader, permanent reform is needed. Congress must do its job to enact immigration legislation that provides undocumented immigrants a full and meaningful shot at citizenship, helps the United States grow its economic prosperity, and reflects our proud history as a nation of immigrants.” 

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For more information, contact Wendy Feliz at [email protected] or 202-507-7524.

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