DAPA Ruling Explained


DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents allows certain eligible categories of illegal aliens, namely parents of Americans, to apply for a temporary deportation deferral and for a three-year employment authorization. 

On April 16, 2013, a group of U.S. senators introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, which was intended to bring major changes to the existing immigration system and create a path to U.S. citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. The Senate passed the bill in June 2013, however, it failed to pass the House of Representatives, and the proposed legislation stalled. 

During his term, President Barack Obama promised to fix the existing immigration system “on his own,” without congressional approval. The DAPA program was announced by the president on November 20, 2014, as an attempt to compensate for the Act’s approval failure. If enacted, DAPA would allow parents of millions of Americans to stay in the county without being under the pressure and fear of deportation. DAPA was also intended to give millions of illegal immigrants an opportunity to live and work in the country legally for three years, with the option of renewal, therefore, the economic impact of the program was also expected to be positive, because employment authorization would increase the household income for such families and contribute to the U.S. economy. 

To be eligible for the program, parents, who have a child who is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of November 20, 2014, must demonstrate they do not pose a threat to the national security and are not a priority for removal. Therefore, they must not be convicted of a felony or three or more misdemeanors and should demonstrate that they have been living in the U.S. continuously since January 1, 2010, were physically present in the U.S. on November 20, 2014, and have no legal status. It was estimated that some 3.7 million undocumented immigrants would be eligible for DAPA, most of whom lived in California, New York, and Texas. 


Unfortunately, the program was never enacted. In December 2014, 25 Republican-governed states asked the court the stop implementation of both DAPA and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which is a similar program, designed to help millions of eligible undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to defer deportation and receive employment authorization. Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the District Court for the Southern District of Texas ordered an injunction of the implementation of DAPA, and the Obama Administration was not successful in appealing the decision. In June 2016, the Supreme Court voted 4-4, with this issuing no precedent and left Judge Hanen’s injunction order in effect. On June 15, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his decision to completely terminate the DAPA implementation and it is not clear yet if President Joe Biden intends to reconsider the program’s initiation.

Photo by Markus Spiske


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