Administrative Relief: A Tale of Two Courts

Good and bad news in rulings against administrative relief on immigration.

Two rulings by Federal courts on challenges to President Barack Obama’s administrative relief program on immigration have made the news this week. The first was a decision by the District Court judge in South Texas to deny the request by the Obama administration that he stay his own injunction halting the implementation of the November 20, 2014 programs.

This was no surprise. Why would the judge overrule his own decision?

The only surprise was how long he took to make the decision. The judge also required the administration to release information in discovery concerning implementation of the granting of three-year work permits to DREAMers who benefitted from the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This will ultimately go nowhere.

Meanwhile the Texas judge’s bosses in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a more significant ruling in a case that arose out of President Obama’s 2012 DACA program. In Crane v. Johnson, the Fifth Circuit addressed whether the states have “standing” to sue the Federal government over immigration policy. In the Crane case, Mississippi argued that because the newly work authorized DACA recipients would use some state services, the state could sue. This is very similar to the contention of the states that brought the Texas lawsuit.

The Fifth Circuit threw the case out of court, saying that the argument that the legalization would cost the state money was purely speculative. The court said that the state had no standing to sue on immigration in this matter. Hopefully it rule the same way in the Texas suit.