Supreme Court Urged to Lift Ban On Obama’s Immigration Actions

By Gloria Alvarez, EGP Managing Editor

California and the city of Los Angeles have joined 15 other states, the District of Columbia and 118 cities and counties urging the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday to lift an injunction on President Barack Obama’s executive actions shielding certain undocumented immigrants from deportation.

In separate amicus briefs they asked the Supreme Court to reverse an injunction in the case of United States v. Texas, upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, thereby prohibiting the federal government from implementing  immigration directives announced by the president in November 2014.

The injunction was issued against Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and an expanded version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which call for deferring deportation proceedings and granting work permits to two groups of people: those who were brought illegally to the country as children and the undocumented parents of citizens or green card holders.

In the “friends-of-the-courts briefs,” supporters of the president’s actions argue that his directives would not harm the 26 states seeking to overturn them but instead result in substantial benefits not only to undocumented immigrants and their families, but to government coffers as well.

“President Obama has proposed common sense actions on immigration, which will allow millions of hard-working immigrants to come out of the shadows, contribute to the prosperity of this nation and build their American Dream,” California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said Tuesday in a news release announcing the state’s court filing.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer – who co-drafted the brief with his New York counterparts — said Tuesday that by preventing the executive actions from moving forward, “integral” members of their respective cities and communities would be harmed.

“Without the guidance, millions of families in our cities and counties face the threat of deportation, destabilizing our communities and jeopardizing the welfare of families and children,” according to the brief.

The multi-state brief argues that the president’s immigration directives will benefit the states and further the public interest by allowing qualified undocumented immigrants to work legally and better support their families. As a result, the brief argues, state tax revenue will increase, public safety would be enhanced and tragic situations in which parents are deported away from their U.S. citizen children, who are left to rely on state services or extended family, would be avoided.

The benefits from allowing the president’s directives to take effect demonstrate there is no  “irreparable injury to the plaintiff States, and that the balance of hardships and public interest strongly favor allowing the directives to proceed without a preliminary injunction.”

The brief filed by Los Angeles and other cities and counties also points to the potential “economic harm” of not allowing taxpaying immigrants to work and stay in the country. Obama’s executive policies are expected to inject as much as $800 million in “economic benefits” to state and local governments, according to the brief.

It argues that while injunction’s effects are “most immediately and acutely felt on the local level,” it was issued nationally “without any court considering local harms or weighing local harms against the narrow standing ‘injury’ established by plaintiffs: a claim by Texas, a single plaintiff state, of increased driver’s license processing costs.”

Also filing amicus briefs Tuesday was a diverse coalition of 326 immigration, civil rights, labor and social service groups, and a group of Catholic, Evangelical, Protestant and faith-based organizations.

“If the injunction is lifted, many families will be more secure, without the looming threat that loved ones will be deported at a moment’s notice,” according to the civil rights groups: National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, the Service Employees International Union, the Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Mi Familia.

“Many deserving individuals will also have access to better jobs and the ability to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities. DHS has discretion to grant or deny applications for the initiatives at issue, and the concocted argument to the contrary should not be used to prevent individuals from even applying,” the coalition said.

“The lives of real people and their American-born children — not some political targets used in talking points on a campaign trail — are at stake in this case,” stated Rocio Saenz, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Most of the families who apply under the president’s directives include American citizens, including children of DAPA parents who will be voting on behalf of their families this November, according to Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota.

“They are already part of our communities, of our churches and schools, and of our local workforce. We should embrace their contributions that benefit all of us, instead of trying to rip apart their families,” Monterroso said.

Bill Canny, executive director, Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a written statement said the “human consequences of our broken immigration system” is witnessed every day at U.S. Catholic Church’s social service agencies, hospitals, schools, and parishes. “We urgently need relief and justice for our immigrant brothers and sisters and a legal process that respects each person’s dignity, protects human rights, and upholds the rule of law. Although far from ideal, DACA/DAPA does that by keeping many families together and protecting children,” Canny said.

Reversing the lower court’s decision will allow approximately 5 million people, including 1.2 million Californians, to apply for protection from deportation and work authorization, according to California’s Attorney General.

Similar amicus briefs were submitted by Los Angeles city officials and others at previous stages of the case, including when the U.S. Supreme Court was still considering whether to take up the issue.

Information from City News Service used in this report.

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March 10, 2016  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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