U.S. v. Texas: Key Points Made by Amicus Briefs

Amicus Briefs Filed with the Supreme Court Make the Case for Lifting the Injunction Against DAPA and Expanded DACA

DECEMBER 8, 2015

The seven amicus briefs filed in support of the federal government’s certiorari petition demonstrate the severe, nationwide harm—to millions of individual families, to the safety of our communities, and to local and national economic well-being—produced by the injunction barring implementation of the Obama administration’s DAPA and expanded DACA programs.

Broad Support for DAPA and Expanded DACA

Key Points Made by Each Brief

STATES. The states explain that these programs will “increase state tax revenue, benefit state economies, enhance public safety, and help families stay together.”

  • There are “16 million people living in mixed-status families” affected by DAPA and DACA. “One in five undocumented immigrant adults living in the United States has a spouse that is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and around 3.8 million undocumented immigrants have children who are U.S. citizens.” “Removing an undocumented parent can subject those children to housing instability, food insecurity, and other harms. Indeed, many such children are forced into foster care, at significant expense to states.”
  • “When immigrants are able to work legally—even for a limited time—their wages increase, they seek work compatible with their skill level, and they enhance their skills to obtain higher wages, all of which benefit state economies by increasing income and growing the tax base”
  • The states also point out that the claim of harm by the states challenging the program “rests entirely on the notion that [DAPA] will force them to issue more driver’s licenses. But that ‘harm’ is both invented and irrelevant. It does not justify using the federal courts to achieve a political victory that [those states] could not achieve through the political process.”

LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. The local governments urge the Supreme Court to overturn the injunction preventing these programs from going into effect, because that injunction “impairs the stability of millions of families, impedes law enforcement on a daily and recurring basis, and deprives local communities of significant economic benefits.”

  • “Cities and counties forgo substantial economic gains when undocumented immigrants with family ties and connections to our communities cannot enter the workforce lawfully. By allowing a greater number of qualifying undocumented workers to obtain authorization to work, the [administration’s action] furthers the significant and immediate economic interest of all of amici’s residents.” The administration’s executive actions, combined with the 2012 DACA initiative, “would increase state and local tax contributions by $845 million per year.”

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS. The law enforcement officials demonstrate that the administration’s program “benefits community policing by removing the fear of detention and removal for the millions of eligible individuals who are longstanding members of the communities that local law enforcement serves. Legitimizing the presence of otherwise law-abiding immigrants with already strong ties to their neighborhoods, and reassuring them that their cooperation with law enforcement will not separate them from their lives and families in the United States makes them much more willing to cooperate with law enforcement officers”; the injunction against implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA “is thus harming the efforts of local law enforcement nationwide to build trust with community members, and is adversely affecting public safety.”

IMMIGRANTS’ RIGHTS, CIVIL RIGHTS, LABOR GROUPS. The immigrants’ rights/civil rights/labor brief documents how the programs would affect the lives of 15 individuals—and the harm inflicted by the injunction barring the program from going into effect. For example:

  • “Baldo came to the United States from Michoacán, Mexico, in 1988, when he was 17 years old. He lives in Pasadena, California, with his wife and their two U.S. citizen daughters, ages nine and 13. While in the United States, he trained as an electrician and, for nearly 20 years, worked for the same company installing electrical wiring and residential security systems. He lost his job in March 2014 when his employer discovered that Baldo was undocumented. . . . Baldo’s current work as an independent contractor has created financial difficulties for him and his family, as he can no longer rely on a weekly paycheck and cannot count on getting work every week. The lack of a reliable income makes it difficult for Baldo to plan for his family’s financial future.“Baldo’s financial difficulties are compounded by his fear of being forced to return to Michoacán, where he has not lived in nearly 30 years. He has heard from family members about kidnappings and other drug cartel-related violence, and would not feel safe returning to Michoacán. Given the risk of harm, he would not want to take his daughters there, but he also would not want to be separated from them.“As the father of two U.S. citizen children, Baldo would benefit from DAPA, which would enable him to return to his former employer and regain the financial stability his family lost when he was terminated from his long-term job. Deferred action would also relieve Baldo of his fear of deportation and allow his family to remain together.”

BIPARTISAN GROUP OF FORMER MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. The former members of Congress explain that the DAPA program “reflects priorities that were developed by Administrations representing both political parties and have been consistently endorsed by Congresses on a bipartisan basis. Likewise, these directives implement these policies through a long-established, well-defined, and circumscribed means of enforcement prioritization—deferred action on removal—that has been consistently employed by Administrations of both parties and repeatedly endorsed by Congress.”

CURRENT MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. The current members of Congress agree that Congress has granted the executive branch “broad discretion in determining how to carry out the immigration laws, and has explicitly directed the Secretary [of Homeland Security] to establish policies and priorities for enforcement of those laws.” DAPA represents “exactly the kind of rational and measured approach to immigration enforcement that Congress expects—and explicitly empowered— the Executive to undertake.”

FORMER IMMIGRATION AND HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIALS. The former federal officialsdemonstrate that, “For more than half of a century, federal immigration officials have exercised enforcement discretion through policies that . . . enable certain classes of otherwise deportable aliens to remain in . . . the United States and, in most cases, to support themselves while they are present by working lawfully.”

They discuss in detail numerous actions from the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations that follow this pattern. In particular:

  • “President Reagan’s INS promulgated a regulation enabling beneficiaries of deferred action to apply for work authorization.”
  • Under President George H.W. Bush’s 1990 “Family Fairness Program,” 1.5 million undocumented individuals were eligible for deferred action, and work authorization—according to the then-head of the INS’s testimony before Congress. That was estimated to be 40 percent of the total undocumented population.