Leaked documents indicate the Obama administration has been formulating a plan to bypass federal courts that have been holding on to the immigration executive order the president proposed late last year. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to hand down a decision either validating or striking down Obama’s order, which provides deportation relief to the undocumented parents of deferred-action children or American citizens.
The federal appeals court upheld an injunction on the executive order in May, saying that the courts would need to rule on the legality before individuals could receive deportation relief. The court, a three-judge panel, heard arguments July 10. The court’s website indicated that most decisions are made within 100 days of arguments, but that time frame passed in mid-October. A decision could come at any time.
The administration’s plan to bypass the court, however, could stall a decision even further if the court is notified. The president would move forward with the deportation relief plans by tweaking work permit regulatory schemes under the Department of Homeland Security. There are at least four plans under consideration that could be rolled out, according to the Hill, including changing regulations to give work permits to all people living in the U.S., which would include undocumented immigrants, individuals with H1B temporary guest worker visas and people who overstay their visas.
Activists have accused the courts of stalling on the issue, cutting down on the amount of time that the executive order can be in place before the president’s second term finishes. As of mid-October, it was estimated that, even if the court ruled in the administration’s favor, just a few hundred thousand people could apply for the relief before January 2017 when the next president is inaugurated.
There are an estimated 11 million people living in the country without legal status. The president’s most recent executive order proposals would provide relief to an estimated 5 million of those individuals.