"The message continues to be [to] the community, 'Don't subject yourself to negative thoughts,'" Escobar said in an interview. "'Continue to collect your documents. This just gives you more time to prepare.'"
In November, Obama expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to include those who entered the country before their 16th birthday by January 1, 2010; he also created a new program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. In tandem, the orders affect more than 4 million people.
But there's no guarantee the program is going to advance—as both the programs' supporters and critics are adamant that they have the law on their side.
Inside the conference room on Tuesday, Escobar emphasized to the group in Spanish that this decision is not final. The Justice Department is appealing it to a higher court. If the court injunction is lifted, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can continue preparations to kick off the application process. (USCIS implementation activities were put on hold in light of the court's order, an agency spokesperson wrote in an email.)
This messaging—that documents should be collected, that the White House will win—provides a sense of false hope that the courts will uphold an unconstitutional action, according to Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "There's no way to tell what's going to happen in this litigation," he said. "Any lawyer, any activist, who tells you how this is going to play out is being pretty foolish."
And Republicans say Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas made the right decision when he issued a court injunction on Obama's executive actions, a ruling stemming from a lawsuit 26 states filed.
"From the government standpoint," Rep. Louie Gohmert, a conservative House member from Texas, said, "we are supposed to follow the Constitution and the law, and for the president to speak a law into existence and have the secretary of Homeland Security then do a memo that overrides "¦ all the former immigration laws that former Congresses and presidents signed into order is not the way it's done."
Exactly where and when the legal dispute will end remains in doubt.
The Justice Department is trying to get Hanen's ruling overturned, and they've also moved to block the part of then Texas judge's order that immediately froze implementation of the programs, which could be ruled on anytime, from several days to several weeks. The appeal of the judge's ruling could also mean several to many months of waiting, according to Marielena Hincapié, the National Immigration Law Center's executive director. Obama met with immigration advocates Wednesday, including Hincapié, who said the president told them he wanted to move through the legal proceedings as quickly as possible.