The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has put plans to hire 3,100 new workers on hold after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction order to temporarily stop President Obama’s executive action program.
The program aims protect up to 11 million illegal immigrants from the threat of deportation. Specifically, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) would allow the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens to sign up for temporary legal status, and apply for a work permit.
One day after President Obama announced the creation of DAPA on Nov. 20, 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services leased a 2,800 square-foot building as central command for the program, which cost $26 million to open. The office building, located in northern Virginia, is now only being partially used to educate DHS employees on federal immigration law.
A May 26 ruling by the federal appeals court in New Orleans affirmed an injunction issued by a U.S. district judge in Texas over three months ago after 26 states sued the Obama administration, citing the program’s unconstitutionality and the monetary costs for states like Texas with high immigrant populations to issue driver’s licenses to DAPA enrollees.
Overall, DAPA and another executive deportation deferment program created in 2012 called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), are projected to cost $484 million per year, $465 million of which would be covered by the programs’ application fees.
While many immigration advocacy groups which work to inform immigrants about how to apply for deferred status are not being deterred by rulings which have come down since the beginning of the year, Circuit Judge Jerry Smith wrote in the appeal’s court ruling last month that the injunction is being upheld because the administration is “unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal.”
“The public interest favors maintenance of the injunction,” wrote Judge Smith. He went on to reason that DAPA goes beyond “prosecutorial discretion,” and instead “is the affirmative act of conferring ‘lawful presence’ on a class of unlawfully present aliens.”
There are currently an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States, 5 million of which would qualify for one of the two programs which Mr. Obama has created under DHS.
[Washington Post] [Reuters/Joshua Roberts]