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Immigration Law

Texas Federal Judge Strikes Down Obama Administration’s DAPA Program Providing Work Permits And Legal Protection To Undocumented Immigrants

On Feb. 16, 2015, a federal district court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of a federal government program entitled Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). Texas v. United States, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18551 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 16, 2015). The plaintiffs in the case are the State of Texas and 25 other states.

DAPA is designed to provide legal presence to over four million individuals who are currently in the United States illegally, and would enable these individuals to obtain a variety of both state and federal benefits.

In a 123-page ruling, District Judge Andrew S. Hanen found that at least one plaintiff, Texas, stands to suffer direct damage from the implementation of DAPA. Texas has shown that it will suffer an injury, that this injury is proximately caused by the actions of the federal government, and that a favorable remedy issued by the court would prevent the occurrence of this injury.

In its ruling, the court found that by creating a new group of individuals that are eligible to apply for driver's licenses, the DAPA directive will increase the costs incurred by states to verify applicants' immigration statuses as required by federal law. Plaintiffs demonstrated that DAPA will directly injure the proprietary interests of their driver's license programs and cost the States badly needed funds. In Texas alone, the state is projected to absorb significant costs. If the majority of DAPA beneficiaries residing in Texas apply for a driver's license, it will cost the state $198.73 to process and issue each license, for a net loss of $174.73 per license.

The court found that DAPA does not simply constitute inadequate does not simply constitute inadequate enforcement, but rather is an announced program of non-enforcement of the law that contradicts Congress' statutory goals.

The court found that that DAPA is a legislative or substantive rule that should have undergone the notice-and-comment rule making procedure mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The court held for purposes of the temporary injunction that the implementation of DAPA violates the APA's procedural requirements and the states have clearly proven a likelihood of success on the merits.

The federal government is expected to appeal the district court’s ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

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