After President Obama announced his plan to expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and to introduce Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), which would defer the deportation of undocumented parents of U.S. citizens, 26 states joined in a suit against the administration stating that the President had exceeded his executive authority. The suit was filed in Texas, citing the financial burden of issuing driver’s licenses to the recipients as a basis for legal standing, in addition to the allegation that DAPA and expanded DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act. Judge Hanen determined that Texas and the other plaintiff states had a substantial likelihood of success on the merits and issued a preliminary injunction, which halted the implementation of the programs in all 50 states. Soon after, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Hanen’s decision. The case was then heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which deadlocked on the merits, leaving Judge Hanen’s decision in place.
So, how can one Judge in Texas make a decision that affects all 50 states, even the ones that were not a party to the lawsuit? The National Immigration Law Center, Make the Road New York and students from Yale Law School recently filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York asking just that. If successful, this lawsuit may give renewed hope for implementation of President Obama’s executive immigration actions in the 24 states that were not a party to the original suit.
The plaintiff in the suit is Martín Jonathan Batalla Vidal. He is a resident of New York who received a three-year work authorization card per the expanded DACA program. Following Judge Hanen’s decision, however, he received notice from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that he was required to return the three-year card to the agency. The only explanation in the letter for the rescission of his card was a reference to Judge Hanen’s decision.
Mr. Batalla Vidal’s argument is based on standing – essentially that Judge Hanen’s decision was “unlawfully broad” because the 26 plaintiff states lacked standing to obtain, much less seek, a nationwide injunction. Since not all 50 states were a party to the suit, the complaint alleges that the decision should not apply to all states, especially those that didn’t sue to stop the programs.
Due to the Supreme Court’s 4-4 split, no precedent was set in this matter which means that a different Court can decide the opposite of Judge Hanen and the 5th Circuit. If Mr. Batalla Vidal’s suit is successful, other states will likely file similar suits in their own jurisdictions, hopefully leading to the restoration of the program in nearly half of the United States.
We will continue to monitor to progress of this case and provide updates, as they are available.
A copy of the full complaint may be found here: http://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Batalla-Vidal-v-Baren-et-al-complaint-2016-08-25.pdf
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