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Appeals court delays deferred action programs pending lawsuit

A federal appeals court rejected Tuesday the Obama administration's request to remove an injunction that has stalled two programs intended to offer protection for deportation as well as work permits to million of immigrants in the United States without authorization. 

A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans considered arguments in lawsuit filed by Texas and joined by Arizona and 24 other states against the Department of Homeland Security and the White House over two deferred action programs announced by President Barack Obama last November. 

During the speech, the president announced an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and a second program — known as DAPA — that would allow parents to seek their own work permits and protection from deportation. 

Federal officials were ready to being accepting applications on Feb. 18, however that program was stymied by U.S. District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen in Texas, who issued a last-minute injunction halting both programs.

In April, Hanen rejected an appeal from federal officials and the case went to the Fifth Circuit. 

Two of the judges on the panel ruled against the White House, writing that "because the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of the injunction, we deny the motion for stay and the request to narrow the scope of the injunction." 

The court rejected arguments by federal government that the administration would be harmed if the injunction remained in place and found that Texas and the other states had sufficient legal grounds to continue the lawsuit, which has not yet been decided on its merits.

Last November, the Pew Research Center estimated that the two programs would affect up to 3.9 million people. 

In Arizona alone, the program for childhood arrivals would impact 39,000 people, while the program for parents would affect at least 97,000, or nearly half of the state's total unauthorized population, according to estimates by the Migration Policy Institute.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

In January, legal clinic volunteer Myrna Velasco helped Karina Monter, Jocelyn Carino and Raul Carino organize documents for their application to the deferred action program, which was delayed by a federal judge in February.

Deferred deportation – deferred

Arizona ranks high among states for the number of people eligible for the expanded DACA program and the new DAPA program, according to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute. Its estimates for the nation and the top 10 states were:


  • United States: 3,712,000
  • California: 1,116,000
  • Texas: 560,000
  • New York: 234,000
  • Illinois: 199,000
  • Florida: 163,000
  • New Jersey: 137,000
  • Georgia: 122,000
  • North Carolina: 117,000
  • Arizona: 97,000
  • Washington: 77,000

DACA expansion

  • United States: 292,000
  • California: 99,000
  • Texas: 34,000
  • New York: 24,000
  • Florida: 18,000
  • Illinois: 16,000
  • New Jersey: 12,000
  • Georgia: 8,000
  • Arizona: 7,000
  • North Carolina: 5,000
  • Washington: 5,000

Who are the 'Dreamers?'

Announced on June 15,  2012, by President Obama, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a federal program gives based around prosecutorial discretion that offers temporary relief from deportation, and work permits, to some unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children. 

The deferment lasts for two years before it must be renewed. 

To receive DACA, applicants must:

  • Have come the United States before their 16th birthday.
  • Have lived continuously in the United States since 15 July 2007.
  • Were under age 31 on 15 June 2012.
  • Have completed high school or a GED, or were honorably discharged from the armed forces, or are currently enrolled in classes. 
  • Have not been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanors.
  • Pay an application fee of $465.