While Congress was unable to stop President Obama's executive actions on immigration, a series of court cases that are making their way through the system may be able to do just that. Currently, there are court cases dealing with a wide array of issues, including amnesty and work permits for millions of illegal aliens to programs that hurt both low and high-skill American workers.

The case furthest along is the lawsuit brought by 26 states on the harm and legality of President Obama's deferred action program that would grant amnesty and work permits to approximately 5 million illegal aliens. In February, Judge Hanen issued a preliminary injunction halting the implementation of the DAPA program and the expansion and renewal of the DACA program. The Obama administration is seeking a stay of the injunction from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The court heard oral arguments on April 17.

A lesser know portion of President Obama's executive actions announced last November is an expansion of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The program allows foreign graduates of U.S. colleges to work for a year, or 29 months for science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degrees, in their field of study. Although the details of the expansion have not been announced, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. has found that the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, a union that represents STEM workers, has standing to sue over the 29-month OPT extension. The standing was granted on the claim that U.S.-born STEM workers faced increased job competition from foreign workers on OPT.

The most recent lawsuit was filed last week by Save Jobs USA on behalf of former employees of Southern California Edison (SCE). The suit challenges a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) final rule that would provide work permits (H-4 visas) to the spouses of H-1B visa holders. As have the workers in the OPT case, the ex-SCE employees are arguing that the rule, effective May 26, will create additional competition for computer-related jobs, not only by providing an incentive for more H-1B workers to remain in the U.S., but also by adding hundreds of thousands of H-4 visa holders to the labor market, many of whom are highly skilled themselves.

While not a part of President Obama's executive actions, the administration also is facing challenges to regulations governing the H-2B low-skilled, nonagricultural guest-worker program. A federal judge in Florida placed a permanent injunction on the 2008 H-2B regulations in March after enjoining the Department of Labor's 2012 regulations in December. The two injunctions caused a complete shutdown of the H-2B program until the judge issued a temporary stay of the March injunction.

The Department of Labor is also facing a lawsuit based on a recently issued proposed rule governing wages and other requirements for H-2A agricultural guest-workers involved in open range production of livestock. The lawsuit was brought by U.S.-born workers who claimed that previous DOL guidance was negatively affecting their ability to find jobs.

For more on this story, read Bloomberg BNA.

Low-skilled Americans
High-skilled Americans
Obama's executive amnesties

Updated: Wed, Oct 11th 2017 @ 3:26pm EDT