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At One-Year Anniversary of Immigration Actions, Administration Must Vigorously Defend Authority

Washington D.C. – Friday, marks the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s announcement of his executive actions on immigration, which at their heart, are first steps towards common-sense reforms to an outdated immigration system.

The series of reforms range from temporary protections for an expanded group of unauthorized young people (expanded DACA) and parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAPA), to modernizing and streamlining the visa application process, to new guidance to better prioritize the immigration agencies’ use of their limited enforcement resources.

While the centerpiece of the executive actions—expanded DACA and DAPA—remains tied up in litigation, the Administration can and should use its uncontested authority to continue refining enforcement priorities and improving the operations and functions of the visa system.  As the deferred action initiatives have become highly-politicized and are yet to achieve their intended goal—keeping families together while ensuring that the government’s enforcement resources are targeted toward real security threats—there is one aspect of these measures that remains unassailable: the President’s authority to take such actions.

Expanded DACA and DAPA are lawful exercises of prosecutorial discretion, the authority to determine enforcement priorities, and the Supreme Court has held that it is well within the executive’s power to decide how and when to enforce the law. States cannot and should not be able to use the courts to raise a policy dispute. The Administration must continue to defend its authority—one that has been used by every Administration since 1965—to shape immigration policy.

Unfortunately, the suspension of the expanded DACA and DAPA initiatives has real-life consequences for the five million immigrants who might qualify for temporary relief from deportation under them. Those who criticize these actions have yet to devise an alternative plan for moving forward on immigration reform. Yet, one year in, the need for meaningful reform—reform that is good for workers, business and families—remains.

To view additional resources from the American Immigration Center, see:

Deferred Action Initiatives Headed To Supreme Court

American Immigration Council Urges Prompt Appeal
to the Supreme Court of Flawed Fifth Circuit Decision

Washington D.C. – In a disappointing but unsurprising decision, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the federal government’s appeal of the preliminary injunction that has temporarily stopped President Obama’s latest deferred action initiatives from being implemented. This decision clears the way for the Obama Administration to take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The American Immigration Council urges the Administration to act promptly and seek immediate Supreme Court review. 

The deferred action initiatives, announced almost one year ago, in November 2014, include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Together, these initiatives could provide as many as 5 million immigrants with temporary relief from deportation. The decision today means that the initiatives remain suspended. 

Last November, after decades of congressional neglect, President Obama took a crucial, courageous and practical step toward reforming our immigration system. Using the executive’s well-established authority to regulate immigration and determine enforcement priorities, he adopted policies that would allow millions of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children to remain with their parents, while at the same time ensuring that the government’s limited enforcement resources could be targeted toward real security threats. The Obama Administration should aggressively challenge the opinion in this case that states have standing—or legal authority—to file suit when they disagree with federal immigration policies. This sets a dangerous precedent.

As Judge Carolyn Dineen King, stated succinctly in her dissent, “a mistake has been made.” It now is up to the U.S. Supreme Court to correct this grave mistake—a mistake that sets not only a dangerous precedent, but one that is bad for families, bad for our communities, and bad for the future prosperity of our country. 

Coalition Calls For A Reversal Of Texas Ruling Blocking Executive Action On Immigration

Latino American Immigration (Image by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

(Image by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

Unprecedented Coalition of Elected Officials, Advocates, Law Enforcement, Business Groups Ask Appellate Court to Reverse Texas Ruling Blocking President’s Immigration Initiatives

Immigration Policy Center logoWashington D.C. – The Texas federal district court order that blocked parts of President Obama’s executive action on immigration was based on unproven or incomplete presentations to the court and should be reversed, civil rights and immigration advocates argue in an amicus (“friend-of-the-court”) brief in the case of State of Texas v. United States. Texas and 25 other states have sued the federal government to stop the implementation of initiatives that will provide temporary relief from deportation, but advocates maintain the President’s actions are legally sound.

Multiple legal briefs defending the deferred action initiatives were filed Monday with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by a range of advocates, leaders, and elected officials. One of these briefs was filed on behalf of more than 150 civil rights, labor, and immigration advocacy groups, led by the American Immigration Council, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Si Se Puede - Immigration (Image by Claudia A. De La Garza FLIKR)

(Image by Claudia A. De La Garza  in 2014 FLIKR)

Briefs were also submitted to the court Monday by 15 states and the District of Columbia, 73 mayors, county officials from 27 states, 181 members of Congress, and 109 law professors, law enforcement, faith and business leaders. These briefs discuss the economic and community benefits that will result from expansion of the successful DACA program and the new DAPA initiative for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

“Collectively, the parties in these filings represent more than half of the foreign-born population in our country, which means they have a demonstrated track record of producing inclusive immigration policies,” noted Marielena Hincapié, NILC executive director, during a telephonic press briefing announcing the briefs. “We are confident that we will win because the law is on our side. But we also know that the wheels of justice often move slowly. In the meantime, our message to eligible immigrants and their families is to be patient, continue gathering the necessary documents to apply, save up for the application fee, and don’t lose faith,” added Hincapié.

“We are undeterred and we will continue in this campaign [to realize the start of the DACA and DAPA programs],” added Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. An early signer of the amicus brief by local officials, the mayor said the filing before the appellate court by mayors and counties has twice as many signers as an earlier brief submitted to the Texas district court. Citing the economic and community benefits that would come from allowing immigrants to come out of the shadows, Mayor Hancock added, “This is about our communities. This is about working with those who have chosen to call our cities ‘home.’”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, said the legal filing by 181 members of Congress argues the Texas court overturned Congress’ decision to give the executive branch authority to set immigration enforcement priorities.

“What the court has done is not only an affront to what the executive has done [in setting priorities] and to the authority we have – well-grounded in law and in precedent – but also an affront to what Congress has done,” Lofgren said. “There are millions of people living in fear, who have made our economy and lived here for decades, whose lives have been turned upside down by an erroneous ruling.”

Some states claimed that the administrative relief will harm them, but the legal briefs argue the judgment was incorrect.

“That is incorrect. The states have to show irreparable harm to get a preliminary injunction; they have not,” Noah Purcell, solicitor general in the Washington State Attorney General’s Office told reporters. “The president’s directives are good for states; they are not harming states.”

The human aspect of the case also was highlighted during Monday’s press call.

 Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR)

Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

“Although I was disappointed by the news that a federal district judge blocked implementation of DACA expansion, I was not disillusioned,” said Jong-Min You, an immigrant from New York who would be eligible for relief under DACA expansion. “I know that eventually, I will be able to come forward and apply for relief from deportation and work authorization, and I’m not the only one. Other elder Dreamers, along with their parents and millions of others, are ready for the legal battle ahead and for the legal battle to end so that we can finally move forward.”

Rocio Saenz, SEIU international executive vice president, said advocates for expanded DACA and DAPA will never give up.

“The plaintiff states and Republicans who support this lawsuit can ignore the will of their own constituents and immigrants’ contributions, but we will continue to defend the immigration action in the courts. We will continue to fight for immigration reform. We will continue to inform future applicants and make sure that when the time comes – and it will come – that every eligible person applies for the immigration action. We are and will continue to send a strong message to the naysayers, to Republicans who stand in the way of progress: We are not the enemy. But we are ready – ready to fight back, ready for the immigration action, and ready to vote,” Saenz said.

“Amici and the government are clearly on the right side of the law, and we are confident that a stay [of the Texas order] will be granted, hopefully by the Fifth Circuit, one day very soon,” said Melissa Crow, legal director of the American Immigration Council.

A recording of Monday’s press call can be downloaded at http://nilc.org/document.html?id=1222 .

President Obama To Address The Nation On Immigration, Republicans Threaten Shutdown

Image by Chuck Kennedy (Official White House photo) CC FLKR

Image by Chuck Kennedy (Official White House photo) CC FLKR

Today is the day that millions of aspiring Americans have been waiting for. The day when President Obama stands up to Congress and states clearly that if they will not do something to pass meaningful immigration reform then he will do what he can through executive orders.

It was announced last night that the President would make a prime-time address announcing his plans to stop the deportations of millions of aspiring Americans seeking citizenship. He will also stop the ripping apart of families, by stopping the deportation of the parents of children who are legal US Citizens.

A group of immigration lawyers from across the country sent a letter to President Obama citing his legal authority to defer deportations through executive actions.

“Our letter confirms that the administration has specific legal authority to use prosecutorial discretion as a tool for protecting an individual or group from deportation,” said Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar at Penn State Law. “This legal authority served as foundation for prosecutorial discretion policy across several administrations. Historically, this policy has been premised on the twin policy goals of managing limited resources and shielding people with compelling situations from removal.”

“This letter reflects a clear, broad, and informed consensus on two key points,” said Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor at UCLA School of Law. “First, the president has the legal authority, exercising his discretion as the nation’s top immigration prosecutor, to establish enforcement priorities. Second, the president’s lawful discretion includes the authority to set up an orderly system, modeled on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), for granting temporary relief from deportation.”

“It is well established that the President has the legal authority to end this crisis by granting temporary relief to a broad class of workers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “It is also equally established that current enforcement of immigration law is at odds with our American vision of a just society and our values of family, hard work and fairness.”

President Obama’s Executive Order would protect nearly 5 million people currently residing in the United States.

Of course the Republicans were quick to respond to the announcement with more threats to harm real Americans if the President takes action without Congress.

“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for Congressional action on this issue — and many others,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

Senator Marco Rubio who once championed immigration reform in the Senate now is hints of a government shutdown if the President takes executive action on Immigration.

The Des Moines Register reported that Rep Steven King wants to tie executive action on immigration to funding the government.

“If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear …,” King said. “I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that.”

King said if that happens, House-passed legislation on border security, including rolling back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, order, “becomes a requirement” for a continuing resolution.

Over the last six months conservative pundits has indicated that President Obama’s threat to defer action on deportations is unlawful and would warrant everything from a government shutdown to all out impeachment.

The irony of this is that Republicans have already forgotten that their hero, President Ronald Regan, took similar action to provide amnesty to over 3 million undocumented residents.

“The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) gave up to 3 million unauthorized immigrants a path to legalization if they had been “continuously” present in the U.S. since January 1, 1982 (The Hill).

The IRCA was not without issues, forcing the government to deport the immediate family members of those who were covered under the new order.

President George H.W. Bush followed up the IRCA with a “family fairness” policy that would close the loophole in the IRCA in turn protecting another 1.5 million aspiring Americans. The combination of the “family fairness” policy and President Reagan’s executive action provided amnesty to over 40% of the undocumented population living in the United States.

President Obama’s proposal to some seems extreme, however it would cover approximately 40% of the undocumented population currently residing in the United States.

The battle is set to begin tonight as President Obama lays out his plan to help millions of aspiring Americans.

The current government funding extension will expire on December 11th and we will have to wait to see if the Republicans will harm millions of Americans in their opposition to the President by completely shutting down the government.

 

Related Articles:

When Reagan and GHW Bush took bold executive action on immigration.

The American Immigration Council And The AFL-CIO Push For An Executive Order On Immigration

Obama’s Immigration Plan Could Shield Four Million

In-State Dreamers Should Get In-State Rates At UNH Schools

Image from http://pocho.com/viva-los-dreamers/

Image from http://pocho.com/viva-los-dreamers/

How many times have you heard the ignorant anti-immigrant right-wingers say that undocumented immigrants are uneducated leeches on the US economy?  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this.  That is why I was delighted to hear that New Hampshire is about to consider a law to allow students awaiting legal citizenship, entry into the University of NH at residential rates.

For decades now we have been telling our children that they need to get a college education to be able to get a good job, and live well in the middle class.  Though I agree that college does improve your ability to make higher wages, it is not the only way.  An internship with the building trade unions will also provide a great education in a trade that you can use for the rest of your life.   However that is a post for another day. Today we are here to talk about college education.

Middle class families have been struggling to pay their own bills and this has not left much extra cash to help their children attend college.  This is forcing many students to take student loans to attend college.  This is why many have chosen to attend a local state school, because residents pay dramatically less for tuition.

For example:

In-state tuition at the University of New Hampshire is $13,670 this year compared with $26,390 for a non-resident. At Keene State College and Plymouth State University, the in-state rate is $10,410 compared with more than $17,000 for out-of-state students.” (Nashua Telegraph/AP)

As you can clearly see that in-state students only have to pay about half the tuition to attend school as out-of-state students.

In 2012 the NH Legislature led by a GOP supermajority and Speaker Bill O’Brien, passed a law that required all “students receiving in-state tuition to file an affidavit attesting that they are legal residents of the United States (Nashua Telegraph/AP).”  This means that if you are an aspiring American that you cannot attend UNH without paying full out-of-state tuition, no matter how long you have lived in NH.  I think this is wrong.

I know what some people are saying right now; they are here illegally and they should not be given preferential treatment! Yes, they may be undocumented but is that really their fault?  Many of these students were brought here as children by their parents.  Why are we trying to punish the children for their parents’ transgressions? It is like taking away the child’s driver’s license because their parents got a speeding ticket.

Throughout the United States there are about 1.3 million undocumented children or ‘dreamers’.  How many of these children do you think came here knowing their parents were violating the law?   This is a major part of the current immigration debate.  Should we allow the ‘dreamers’ a chance to get their citizenship immediately?

One of the key parts of this revision to the NH law is that in order to qualify for in-state tuition rates they must have lived here for at least three years.

The students would have to be a graduate of a high school in the state or have gotten a New Hampshire high school equivalency certificate. They would have had to attend a state high school for three years before graduating or receiving an equivalency certificate and have met all the other criteria for in-state rates (Nashua Telegraph/AP).”

According to the Immigration Policy Center, there are about 1,020 ‘dreamers’ living in NH right now.   That means this change would have a very minor effect on the UNH system.

Changing this law would also add New Hampshire to the 15 other states that already allow ‘dreamers’ to attend college as in-state residents, while they are waiting to become legal US citizens.

Since the US House does not want to address the issue of Immigration, we as Granite Staters can take a little step forward to help these young people while we wait for the Congressional gridlock to end.

AFL-CIO Pushes For Immigration Reform With New Ad

Labor Federation mobilizes workers to pressure House Republicans to pass immigration reform with roadmap to citizenship and workers’ rights

Efforts tie into coalition “Cost of Inaction” mobilizations

Today the AFL-CIO announced the release of new, hard hitting television ads that call out Republicans for obstructing comprehensive immigration reform, citing anti-immigrant statements by Republican lawmakers.  In addition to the ads, labor will launch in-district mobilizations to increase pressure on House Republicans to support immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship and protection of workers’ rights. Providing 11 million aspiring Americans with the chance to come out of the shadows and contribute to our communities will protect the rights of all workers, the AFL-CIO has said.

These ads represent the next step of the labor movement’s unprecedented nationwide campaign to reform the nation’s broken immigration system and create equal access to the American Dream. The ads will run in Spanish and target districts with large Latino constituencies in Bakersfield, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Atlanta, Ga.; and Orlando, Fla. The ads will also be broadcast in English in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

“The time for acting on immigration reform is now, and the labor movement has decided to throw down in a big way to make it happen,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.  “Every day, over 1,000 people are deported, while House Republicans refuse to act on immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship and workers’ rights.  We won’t stop until the deportation crisis ends and aspiring Americans have the roadmap to citizenship they deserve.”

Online actions and mobilization by the labor movement will tie into coalition actions targeting nine key House Republicans as part of the “Cost of Inaction” campaign.

“I have been working on this since the days of Governor Pete Wilson in California when he tried to demonize immigrants back in the early 1990s,” said AFL-CIO Los Angeles Labor Federation head Maria Elena Durazo. “We know what happened. We saw how that worked out.  The time to act is now. Or the Republican Party may never again be able to get support from immigrant communities.”

 

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