In February 2015, a court in Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction in the case challenging the expansion of President’s Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative and the launch of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The injunction effectively halted implementation of the initiatives and also rolled back a plan the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had announced to start issuing three-year, rather than two-year, work permits to eligible DACA recipients. The injunction has been widely-criticized for being too broad and covering states not involved in the litigation. The Judge’s broad injunction in United States v. Texas meant that no one in the nation would be able to apply for expanded DACA or DAPA and that many existing DACA recipients would have their three-year Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) revoked.
While the legal battle over DACA and DAPA continues, one of the individuals whose three-year EAD was revoked, Mr. Martin Jonathan Batalla Vidal, filed a lawsuit against DHS last week seeking reinstatement of his three-year work permit. He has also asked for declarations from the court that its revocation on the basis of the overbroad injunction was unlawful and that the February 2015 injunction does not apply to residents of New York.
Mr. Vidal came to the United States from Mexico at the age of seven and has lived in New York for nearly twenty years. He is now a student preparing to become a medical assistant and works to help support his family. In November 2014, Vidal submitted an application for DACA. Shortly afterwards, DHS announced that the period of deferred action for DACA recipients and related employment authorization would be expanded from two years to three years. In February 2015, the government granted Mr. Vidal DACA and employment authorization for three years. On May 14, 2015, however, DHS revoked Mr Vidal’s three-year work permit, stating as the sole grounds for its action the issuance of a preliminary injunction in United States v. Texas. DHS later issued Mr. Vidal a two-year work permit. Mr. Vidal is one of about 2,000 people to whom United States Citizenship and Immigration Services inadvertently granted three-year DACA and EADs after the Texas district court entered the preliminary injunction.
The crux of Mr. Vidal’s argument is that the 26 states that filed the lawsuit challenging expanded DACA and DAPA would not be harmed by the issuance of three-year EADs to New York residents and thus lacked a sufficient stake in the case to seek or obtain a nationwide injunction. In addition, Mr. Vidal alleges that DHS’ revocation of his three-year EAD violates binding USCIS regulations. He seeks relief on the basis that the Texas injunction jeopardizes his legally protected interest in his three-year EAD.
Vidal is represented by Make the Road New York, Yale’s Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic and the National Immigration Law Center who hope that the lawsuit could lead to the reinstatement of DAPA and expanded DACA for millions of families in states that are not part of the United States v. Texas lawsuit.
Photo by Michael Fleshman.