CRS issues report on state action on enforcement of immigration law

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued a report on state challenges to federal immigration enforcement. The report, prepared by Legislative Attorney Kate M. Manuel, examines historical precedents and the pending U.S. Supreme Court case of Texas v. United States.

The CRS report points out that states and localities often have an interest in how the federal government enforces immigration law regarding undocumented immigrants. On the one hand, some cities have implemented policies to limit cooperation with federal enforcement efforts. On the other, states with large populations of undocumented immigrants have sued the federal government, unsuccessfully, seeking stronger enforcement measures through local law.

More recently, states have challenged the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative of the Obama Administration and a similar program, known as DAPA, for undocumented immigrants who are parents of certain lawful permanent residents or of U.S. citizen children. In this litigation, Texas v. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that the programs violate the Administrative Procedure Act. The U.S. Supreme Court granted the federal government’s request for certiorari on January 19, 2016, and the high court indicated that when it considers the case later in the year, it will also consider the plaintiffs’ claims that DACA and DAPA violate the Take Care clause of the Constitution.

The CRS report concluded by stating that even if the decisions of the lower courts withstand appeal, the ability of states to challenge alleged “failures” of the federal government to enforce immigration laws is limited.