Time and again, the Obama administration has stepped forward with a new initiative on immigration. Time and again, those efforts have encountered difficulty, and time and again the White House has thrown up its hands, said it has done all it can, and tried to move on. And each time, immigration advocates have reacted furiously, successfully pressuring the administration to take back up the banner.
That recurring pattern has led to major shifts in immigration policy over the last three years. When the DREAM Act died in Congress, President Obama instituted a policy—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA—that achieved many of the same goals. When immigration reform foundered in Congress, Obama unveiled an executive action that expanded DACA. (Actually, he promised to do so before the 2014 midterm elections, then flinched, then issued the rule after the election.)
Once again, Obama’s initiatives have hit a rough stretch, though. First, in February, federal district Judge Andrew Hanen ruled against the program in a suit brought by Republican officials in 26 states. In addition, he put an injunction against it, meaning the administration couldn’t move forward with it while the challenge was ongoing. The administration appealed Hanen’s decision to the Fifth Circuit, and it separately made an emergency request to the circuit to remove the injunction. On Tuesday, a panel of judges refused to stay the injunction, and on Wednesday the administration quietly said it wouldn’t appeal that decision to the Supreme Court.