Yet Obama’s plan has gone — and may be going — nowhere. That’s because it remains in legal limbo, sitting in a New Orleans federal appeals court that heard arguments in July but has yet to issue a decision.
The three-month wait doesn’t sit well with immigrant advocates, who last week launched a nine-day fast and vigil outside the federal courthouse, where three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit are debating the program’s fate.
“Three months is too long. There are five million lives in limbo,” said Tara Raghuveer, policy and advocacy director for the Chicago-based National Partnership for New Americans, a coalition of 37 immigrant advocacy groups. She voiced concern that the 5th Circuit, known as one of the nation’s most conservative appellate courts, may be joining opponents of the program in “an intentional legal strategy to delay any potential implementation.”
Erin F. Delaney, an associate professor of law and political science at Northwestern University, said the delay is not unusual, given the complicated legal issues at stake. “I understand why everyone is upset,” said Delaney, a former U.S. Supreme Court clerk. “But three months, over the summer, with a case of this complexity, doesn’t seem out of the norm at all.”