HR Management & Compliance

Judge’s action sparks more uncertainty on Obama’s immigration orders

A temporary injunction against President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration is adding to the uncertainty surrounding immigration reform and its impact on employers. On Monday, a federal judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction blocking Obama’s orders issued last November that would have eased deportation concerns for millions of undocumented immigrants that have been in the country for years. The orders had not yet begun accepting applications.

The injunction, which the Obama administration plans to appeal, is a result of a lawsuit in which 26 states challenged Obama’s authority to take the actions. U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen ruled that allowing the immigration orders to be implemented before a full trial would cause irreparable harm to states needing to provide services to the undocumented immigrants eligible for the program’s protections.

The lawsuit challenges Obama’s authority to implement the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program and to expand the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Effect on employers

The government was to have begun receiving applications for the expanded DACA program on February 18, but the injunction changed that, according to Elaine C. Young, an attorney with the Kirton McConkie law firm in Salt Lake City, Utah. “What this means for employers is that any employers who were awaiting the work authorization of millions of undocumented immigrants this year will need to postpone their plans,” she said.

Since the Justice Department plans to appeal the temporary injunction, “ultimately the decision as to whether President Obama’s proposal was within his authority will be decided by a higher court,” Young said.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is prepared to implement expanded DACA and DAPA if it prevails in court, Young said. “In the meantime, they continue to offer initial grants of DACA and renewals of DACA under their 2012 guidelines, so some young people who qualify under the original DACA guidelines will continue to be eligible for work permits,” she said. “In other words, employers who currently employ beneficiaries of DACA should expect that these individuals will be able to maintain their current work authorization.”

Christine D. Mehfoud, a director with the Spotts Fain law firm in Richmond, Virginia, says the injunction will delay the implementation of expanded DACA and DAPA “but is not the final word on the subject.”

“Employers who have been preparing their immigration compliance programs to respond to employees with new work authorization as a result of the executive action will have more time to prepare,” Mehfoud said.

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