Discussion Points for Punto Legal- April 13, 2016

  1. The May 2016 visa bulletin is out. The cut-off date for spouses and children of residents from Mexico is 15 Aug 2014; last month it was 22 Jul 2014. The cut-off date for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens from Mexico is 8 Apr 1997.

  2. This coming Monday, April 18, at 8:00 Mountain Daylight Time, the United States Supreme Court will hold oral argument in United States v. Texas. This is a big deal. The fate of DAPA and nearly five million immigrant parents is at stake. If the Obama Administration gets a complete win, DAPA will become a reality right in the middle of a presidential election year.

    I think—and hope— that at least five Supreme Court Justices will agree that Texas and 25 other states do not have standing to sue the federal government over powers given to the federal government in the Constitution.

    Here is what is at issue regarding state "standing" to sue: to be allowed in federal court, a state government — like anyone else who seeks to sue in those courts — has to show that the action being challenged causes it a definite injury or harm.

    The federal government argues that the 26 states cannot show any injury to themselves from the DAPA program, and the states argue that at least one of them—Texas—will face significant financial burdens under the policy. That is an argument keyed to the state of Texas, which says it will have to spend millions of dollars of public money to provide driver’s licenses to the large group of immigrants who would be allowed to stay in the country. Both a federal trial judge in Brownsville, Texas, where the states filed their lawsuit, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, ruled that Texas did have standing under the driver’s license expenses theory.

    The federal government says a state cannot complain about the incidental expense caused a federal immigration decision. Under the Constitution, immigration is an exclusively federal matter.

    Suppose the federal government decided to move 100,000 soldiers to Texas. The state could not complain it has to spend money issuing driver’s licenses or marriage license to soldiers. The case would be thrown out of court.

    The oral argument had originally been set for just one hour, but the Court agreed to requests to add more time, for a total of ninety minutes. The federal government will share ten minutes of the 45 allotted to its side with a lawyer for undocumented parents who would benefit from the deferred deportation policy. The state of Texas will share fifteen minutes of the 45 available to the states with a lawyer for the United States House of Representatives.

    Oral arguments involve a lot of questions by the Justices. Often, you can figure out which way they are going to vote from the oral argument.

    You cannot listen to the oral argument live. But, the transcript will be posted by the close of business on Monday. So you can read it! And an audio tape will be available next Friday. And, of course, Univision and the media will be all over this case.