Earlier this month, a federal court stalled an expansion of an executive order that would have expanded the provisions for some undocumented immigrants to remain in the country — including some students.

President Barack Obama announced his intention to issue an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy in November. DACA, first introduced by the Obama administration in 2012, allowed undocumented immigrants brought to the United States before the age of 16, legally or illegally, to delay deportation. It also provided the opportunity to acquire work authorization.

The expansion was set to take place on Feb. 18, but following a challenge filed by 26 states, including Michigan, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a preliminary injunction against the executive order Feb. 16. The lawsuit charged that the proposed changes extended beyond constitutional executive power.

In his injunction, Hanen pointed to procedural, rather than strictly constitutional issues.

“(The Court) hereby finds that at least Texas has satisfied the necessary standing requirements that the defendants have clearly legislated a substantive rule without complying with the procedural requirements under the Administration Procedure Act,” he wrote.

The proposed DACA expansion would have widened the age range eligible for DACA, which currently only applies to individuals who arrived in the United States before 2007, to individuals in the country since 2010. Additionally, it would have removed an eligibility cap of 30 years, and extended the deferred action period from two to three years. The executive order also allowed parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to request deferred action, as well as employment authorization.

Law Prof. Margo Schlanger, who used to lead the civil rights office for the Department of Homeland Security and had minor involvement in the original DACA legislation, said she thought the expansion was a necessary step from the president.

“The Obama administration has been advocating for a legislative fix to immigration and the Congress has rejected that,” Schlanger said. “The administration would like to do by way of legislation, but has not been able to. They have instead been using available executive authority.”

However, not all were in agreement with these new provisions.

In a statement issued after the court’s decision, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) said his disagreement with the bill stemmed primarily from concerns of presidential overreach.

“America has always been a beacon of hope,” Schuette stated. “Our country needs an immigration policy that is hopeful, encouraging and lawful. A federal judge agrees that the president’s unilateral action is constitutionally flawed, and now the rule of law will get its day in court.”

For Rackham student Carlos Robles, the original DACA was a saving grace.

Robles came to the United States about 10 years after his family’s business in Mexico failed. They crossed the border legally with travel Visas, overextended their stay and became undocumented immigrants.

Robles and his siblings attended public school in Palatine, Illinois for multiple years, staying undetected. However, one spring break, Robles and his brother decided to visit a friend in Boston. Near the Buffalo/Toronto border, border patrol agents randomly inspected the train they were travelling on.

Robles and his brother could only provide their expired Visas, and were taken to a county jail, where they spent several days. After posting bail, Robles said U.S Sen. Dick Durbin (D–IL) took on their case and ultimately managed to get them approval to stay in the country through the original iteration of DACA.

While DACA does not provide any path to legal residency or citizenship, it opened the doors for Robles and his brother to continue schooling, and gain work authorization in the United States.

Robles said it’s possible the block on expansion could stop him and others from being able to renew his own authorization to stay in the country, though the court thus far has indicated that the litigation won’t affect individuals covered by the original 2012 order.

He added that while he wasn’t surprised by the challenge to the court case, it added on to the difficulty of being an undocumented immigrant.

“It’s furthering the same sense of frustration that immigrants have been having,” Robles said. “This isn’t a surprise. I’m more surprised this didn’t happen earlier.”

In an e-mail interview, Assistant Law Prof. Kate Andrias wrote she believes that the current litigation will not have a large effect on how the executive branch addresses immigration in the long term.

However, in the short term, she wrote, many people’s fears of deportation are high.

“Immigrants who would otherwise be entitled some relief are living with a great deal of uncertainty,” Andrias wrote.

The next step for the contested expansion will be a federal court hearing, during which the court will be tasked with deciding whether or not it was within Obama’s power to expand DACA.

Robles and Schlanger said they were both hopeful that future work to integrate undocumented immigrants wouldn’t be halted by the injunction.

“I think that the goal of immigration reform is to take people who are here and are functionally Americans, and allow them access to the opportunities they need to flourish,” Schlanger said.

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