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Preparing For the “Residential Jackpot” after Texas v. United States

On October 3, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the Obama administration’s request to rehear United States v. Texas. The Supreme Court previously affirmed the Fifth Appellate Circuit’s decision with a 4-4 vote in June of this year. This decision put a halt on the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and Expanded Deferred Action for Certain Childhood Arrivals announced by President Obama in 2014.

Testing Boundaries

We are already seeing separate lawsuits test the boundaries of the February 2015 injunction that was issued by a District Court in Texas. In New York, one question being asked is whether a single federal judge that presides over the federal court in Texas has the power to issue an order that affects New York. This is a territory we have not entered before and could lead to schism among the federal courts. Before explaining the schism, it may be best to explain how the Federal Court system works.

The U.S. Supreme Court is the top court of the land. When the U.S. Supreme Court decides a case the law is controlling throughout all the federal courts. There are thirteen appellate courts that sit below the U.S. Supreme Court. Each of these Appellate Courts are independent of each other and listen to appeals from the District Courts within its region. The District Courts (also called trial courts) preside over cases that happen within its individual district.

Upholding the Fifth

In United States v. Texas, the Supreme Court’s 4-4 tie resulted in the upholding of the Fifth Appellate Circuit Court’s decision to uphold the Texas District Court’s injunction. However, an injunction is a temporary relief for a party in the lawsuit. The new lawsuit filed in the District Court for the Eastern district of New York focus argues that the U.S. District Court in Brownsville Texas did not have the authority in this case to issue an injunction that reached New York. Neither New York or the plaintiff filing the case were a party to United States v. Texas. If successful, this may pave the way for other lawsuits in other States that were not part of United States v. Texas. Additionally, this will likely result in the DAPA and DACA being allowed in certain states but not others.

This result while great for immigrants that hits the “residential jackpot” will only continue to add another level of complexity to the immigration law.

Immigration policy has always been met with controversy. This outcome only further deviates from the necessity to have a consistent national immigration policy. No confidence can be found in our system if we cannot clearly outline a path where the futures of millions of immigrants are at stake.


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