New lawsuit advances efforts started in New York, alleges Texas order not binding in Illinois
A new federal lawsuit today advanced efforts to reinstate the Obama administration’s immigration relief initiatives, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (expanded DACA), in some parts of the country.
The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by José Lopez, a DACA recipient, is the second to challenge the reach of an unlawfully broad injunction in United States v. Texas. It follows a similar lawsuit filed in August by Martín Batalla Vidal in the Eastern District of New York.
Both lawsuits seek to fix a wrongdoing suffered by thousands of DACA recipients who are not party to the Texas case, and could open up a new pathway for the implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA outside of Texas, providing relief for millions of families.
“I applied for DACA because I knew it would open up better opportunities, and I had understood I wouldn’t have to reapply to renew my work permit for three years—a big relief,” Lopez said. “This relief was taken away from me and from thousands of others because of one judge in Texas. That’s not fair. We contribute to our communities, and we should be allowed to plan our lives more than two years at a time.”
Lopez, 24, is a longtime resident of Chicago who came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was four years old. He is represented by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), and the Rockford, Illinois, law firm Dady & Hoffmann.
In February 2015, Lopez received a three-year work permit from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under newly issued rules for DACA. That same month, Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of the federal district court in South Texas, issued an injunction in United States v. Texas that blocked DAPA and the expansion of DACA nationwide, based solely on claims of alleged costs to Texas. The federal government relied on that injunction to wrongfully revoke three-year work permits that had been issued to thousands of DACA recipients across the country, including to Lopez and Batalla Vidal.
Like Batalla Vidal, Lopez seeks reinstatement of his three-year work permit because its revocation on the basis of the overbroad injunction was unlawful. Furthermore, by challenging the scope of the Texas injunction, the lawsuit could lead to the reinstatement of DAPA and expanded DACA for millions of families in states that are not part of the Texas lawsuit.
“We are proud to stand with José, as we are with Martín, because Illinois is not Texas,” said Justin Cox, a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “And New York is not Texas. We are fighting back against an erroneous injunction that has hurt people like José and Martín as well as millions of other immigrants across the country—and, indeed, all of us.”
“It’s deeply troubling that a district court judge’s decision in Texas is reaching to cause harm to longtime Illinois residents, when our city and state officials have repeatedly expressed support for President Obama’s expansion of deferred action,” said Mark Fleming, national litigation coordinator at the National Immigrant Justice Center. “Increasing access to DACA and implementing DAPA would bring tremendous economic and social benefits to Illinois.”
Announced in 2012, DACA allows some young undocumented immigrants such as Lopez, who came to the U.S. as children, to live and work in the country temporarily if they meet certain eligibility requirements.
In November 2014, the Obama administration sought to build on the success of that initiative by expanding eligibility requirements to include more immigrant youth and by creating the DAPA program, which would similarly allow some undocumented parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children to live and work in the U.S. temporarily. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security announced that new and renewing DACA applicants would be approved for three- rather than two-year periods. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began issuing three-year work permits that same month.
In December 2014, Texas and 25 other states sued to stop the implementation of DAPA and expansion of DACA. In February 2015, Judge Hanen issued a nationwide injunction blocking both programs. The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which this month refused to rehear the case after deadlocking and issuing no decision in June.
The complaint filed today is available here.