Trump’s Softened Immigration Stance Met with Caution

March 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Immigrant advocacy groups demanded concrete and immediate action from Pres. Donald Trump following his comments on his immigration plan Tuesday during his first speech before Congress, as until now he has only managed to instill fear with his executive orders.

“I believe that a real and positive immigration reform is possible…if we are guided by the well-being of American citizens, then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades,” Trump said to a joint session of Congress.

An official source at the White House told EFE Services that the president thinks both Democrats and Republicans have to “soften their positions” if they want immigration reform to happen.

However, the source did not clarify whether the president is open to considering a path to citizenship or legalization for the young beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – a program started by former Pres. Barack Obama that has since protected about 750,000 undocumented immigrants from immigrations, as well as allowing them to work legally in the U.S.

Councilman Gil Cedillo told EGP that he is delighted that the Trump Administration is interested in immigration reform, but “will not [hold his] breath.”

“If this Congress was interested in passing some sort of immigration reform, it would have happened already. Much like the President’s healthcare reform idea, we have yet to see details, or an actual plan…ICE raids and intimidation tactics are not the solution,” Cedillo said in a statement emailed to EGP.

Meanwhile, the Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) pledged to keep fighting in favor of immigrants and refugees in court.

“The president’s speech was void and completely divorced from the reality and damage that it has inflicted on the most vulnerable communities in the country,” ACLU said in a statement.

During the speech, Trump referenced Jamiel Shaw II, a young African-American high school student from Los Angeles High School who was murdered by an undocumented gang member in Arlington Heights in 2008. Shaw’s father, who rallied on behalf of Trump during his campaign, was a special guest on Tuesday, along with three other victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

“We must support the victims of crime,” Trump said, adding that through the creation of an office called VOICE, Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement, his administration is “providing a voice to those who have been ignored by the media, and silenced by special interests.”

“Trump continues to label immigrants as criminals, an accusation as fake as it is cruel,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice.

Alfonso Aguilar, president of the conservative group Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, declared his support for finding solutions for undocumented immigrants and said in an interview on CNN, “ironically, maybe Trump is the one who can achieve this.”

In his opinion, the president has the confidence of hard-line advocates and could be able to negotiate an agreement.

EGP Staff Writer Stacey Arevalo contributed to this story.

 

CA Leaders Rebuke Trump’s Orders on Border Wall, ‘Sanctuary Cities’

January 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Southland and California elected officials and activists wasted no time today lashing out at President Donald Trump’s executive actions calling for construction of a wall along the Mexican border and slashing funding for so-called “sanctuary” cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and substantially beefing up the ranks and enforcement authority of border agents.

“These are serious times that call for serious solutions,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Los Angeles in response. “Yes, border security is a crucial pillar of comprehensive immigration reform, but a huge wall won’t make us any safer, morally upright, reduce the deficit or energize our economy.

“We need reform that provides real border security, unites families, protects American workers and offers an earned pathway to citizenship — something that Democrats and I will continue to champion in the face of the crazy conservatism of Trump world,” he said.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said Trump’s orders will “harm public safety, tear families apart and jeopardize national security.”

“Forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall isn’t a solution, it’s a political gesture,” Harris said. “And telling cities they must deny public safety, education and health care services to children and families living within their jurisdiction will not make us more secure, it will mean fewer crimes reported and more families living in fear.”

Rusty Hicks, executive secretary treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said the organization would continue to stand in support of the roughly 1 million immigrants without legal status living in Los Angeles County.

“We have already strengthened protections for immigrant workers in collective bargaining agreements,” Hicks said. “Now, with our state legislators and county Board of Supervisors, we will grow the 100 attorneys we have already organized into a much larger force to make sure every immigrant has a lawyer to defend their rights to a fair process.

“For decades, Los Angeles and California have been stronger, more progressive and more prosperous than the rest of the nation,” he said.

“Unfortunately, President Trump has chosen to take our nation down the dark path of division and exclusion.”

Building a border wall was a hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign, and he continues to insist that although the United States will be moving ahead with construction, Mexico will ultimately foot the bill — something Mexican leaders have steadfastly denied.

“I’m just telling you there will be a payment,” Trump said in an interview with ABC News. “It will be in a form — perhaps a complicated form. And you have to understand what I’m doing is good for the United States. It’s also going to be good for Mexico. We want to have a very stable, very solid Mexico.”

California’s new Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, issued a statement saying, “It is important to put these White House executive actions in context.”

According to Becerra, executive orders do not change existing law nor can they contradict existing law. He noted they can be challenged in court for “violating constitutional and legal standards in their enforcement.”

Becerra said his office is “prepared to protect the public safety and general welfare of all Californians as well as their privacy and property rights,” adding the state “will protect the rights of all of its people from unwarranted intrusion from any source, including the federal government.”

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) called the president’s actions “ deeply troubling.”

“With today’s executive orders, this president has transformed his anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric into destructive action which is intolerant, fiscally irresponsible, and dangerous, Roybal-Allard said, adding it would force “Local jurisdictions will be forced to choose between their share of federal funding and keeping faith with their local communities.”

Pres. Trump has yet to take action on his promise to deport anyone in the country illegally, especially those with criminal backgrounds, or to reverse former president Barack Obama’s executive actions to protect people brought to the country illegally as children, often referred to as Dreamers.

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), temporarily normalized the status of more than 750,000 undocumented immigrants, allowing them to legally work in the           U.S. among other benefits.

Trump’s supporters believed overturning Obama’s two executive orders would be among his first actions after taking office, and were disappointed his action on the border wall Wednesday did not also include an order to end DACA and DAPA.

Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) said in a written statement Wednesday that he “is encouraged that the Trump Administration and the U.S. Senate are working together to resolve our immigration crisis through consensus legislative action, not executive fiat or alarmist rhetoric.

“Hardcore criminals should rightly be the focus of deportations, not hard-working families and students,” Vidak said.

He said Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has made it clear “Trump has no immediate plans to deport the youngsters, but would instead work with the House and Senate leadership “to get a long-term solution on that issue.”

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Monday that DACA is “unconstitutional and has to be replaced,” ideally in conjunction with “measurers that ensure that our immigration laws are being enforced.” He said he believes however, that there is broad consensus that Dreamers should not be deported but allowed to stay in the country.

Trump’s actions coincided with the first meeting, scheduled for Wednesday night, of a Los Angeles City Council committee on immigrant affairs.’

Among the items on the panel’s agenda is a reaffirmation of Los Angeles Police Department Special Order 40, which prevents officers from stopping people solely to question them on their immigration status. The department also does not detain people based solely on their immigration status.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, however, said the city does cooperate with immigration authorities, “particularly in cases that involve serious crimes, and always comply with constitutional detainer requests.’’

“What we don’t do is ask local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws, and that’s an official LAPD policy that has been enforced for nearly 40 years,” he said. “That is for everyone’s good, because trust between police and the people they serve is absolutely essential to effective law enforcement.

“Everyone in L.A. should feel safe stepping forward if they have witnessed a crime or been victimized themselves — and immigration status shouldn’t interfere with the cooperation and partnership we need to keep our neighborhoods safe,” Garcetti said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell reinforced that position Wednesday on behalf of his department. McDonnell said the president’s “executive order does not change the mission of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Our priority continues to be protecting our public … Our department policy clearly states that our deputies do not ask for one’s immigration status. Immigration enforcement remains a federal responsibility.”

Women’s March L.A.: A ‘Celebration of Human Rights’

January 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Observers said Women’s March-Los Angeles, which drew a massive crowd that filled the downtown streets around Pershing Square, was the city’s largest demonstration in nearly a decade.

Saturday’s gathering was held in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, similar events in cities nationwide and in other parts of the world to protest the presidency and policies of Donald Trump. Worldwide crowds have been estimated at up to three million people.

The size of crowd seemed to eclipse even the expectations of organizers, who estimated at one point that as many as 750,000 people showed up. The Los Angeles Police Department estimated the crowd at “well past one hundred thousand.”

The Los Angeles Fire Department also pegged the crowd at “over 100,000” and said 10 people were assessed by LAFD personnel for non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries, with one person taken to a hospital. On Tuesday, Metro officials reported that roughly 592,000 passengers — 360,000 more riders than on a typical Saturday — boarded its trains.

Women from all walks of life marched to support the rights of all people in Trump era. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Women from all walks of life marched to support the rights of all people in Trump era. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Whatever the numbers, observers said it was the largest demonstration in downtown Los Angeles since an immigration rights march in 2006 drew an estimated 500,000 people to downtown’s streets.

Police said no arrests were made.

Organizers stressed that the event was non-partisan and not a protest, but a “celebration of human rights.”

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

The mission statement for the march read, in part, “We stand together in solidarity for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

That spirit was borne out by peaceful crowds singing “This Land Is Our Land” and a general air of exuberance despite the pedestrian gridlock downtown.

Individuals and groups backing a wide variety of priorities were on hand, advocating for issues ranging from women’s rights to environmental protections, access to healthcare, criminal justice reform, voting rights, immigrant, and LGBTQ rights.

“Women’s rights are human rights,” read many signs.

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

A 6-year-old being pushed in a stroller by her dad carried a poster board bedazzled with peace signs and glitter reading, “The power of a girl is to change the world.”

Her father was one of many men joining the march, including at least one wearing a pink “pussy hat,” and one of many marchers who brought their children and grandchildren to the rally.

The Washington, D.C., march that sparked local “sister” marches similar to the one in Los Angeles was deliberately planned for the day after President Trump’s inauguration. And many of the individuals and groups taking part opposed Trump and the policies he laid out on the campaign trail and during his transition to office.

This includes possible mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, repealing the Affordable Care Act, a health insurance initiative also known as Obamacare, and repealing funding for Planned Parenthood, the National Endowment of the Arts and humanities programs.

“In a time when we are all wondering what we can do, we can do this … let them hear our voice!” march organizer Deena Katz said in a statement.

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Others were more outspoken about their distaste for the new president, with some briefly taking up a chant of “You’re fired,” echoing Trump’s catchphrase from his days hosting “The Apprentice” reality show.

Some carried signs with messages such as, “Not my president” and “Can’t build a wall. Hands too small.”

About five dozen celebrities, including Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Natalie Portman, Kerry Washington, Alfre Woodard, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Jamie Lee Curtis and Laverne Cox signed up to attend the local event.

Trump briefly crossed paths with protestors in Washington, D.C., and posted his reaction on Twitter, in addition to a formal White House statement.

“Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote?” the president tweeted.

He also criticized the celebrity participants and the media coverage.

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

The White House statement singled out Madonna for telling the Washington, D.C. crowd that she thought about “blowing up the White House. But I know that this won’t change anything.”

“Comments like these are absolutely unacceptable,” the statement said.

His defeated opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, posted a tweet that said in part “Thanks for standing, speaking and marching for our values.”

In Los Angeles, public officials were out in force, with many speaking before or after the approximately one-mile march from Pershing Square to City Hall, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Councilmen Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

They served to underline the fact that this was far from a women-only event.

Residents of all ages joined in. One 74-year-old woman said she was marching for the first time in her life.

“This stirred me,” Linda Fenneman said.

As many as 750,000 people participated in the Women’s March-Los Angeles Saturday. (Photo by Nancy Martinez)

As many as 750,000 people participated in the Women’s March-Los Angeles Saturday. (Photo by Nancy Martinez)

She was joined by Linda Lopez, who said she had protested on behalf of migrant farm workers in 1971 in Calexico and for the civil rights of Native Americans at Wounded Knee in 1973.

“I’ve been protesting for 45, almost 50 years,” Lopez said.

State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, who was among the speakers on a stage across the street from City Hall, made a plea to protect access to health care.

“I know everything isn’t perfect,” Mitchell said of the Affordable Care Act. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not going backwards … We cannot allow the federal government to replace Obamacare with trumped up care.”

Mitchell was among those who sought to engage the crowd to organize beyond the one-day march.

One woman from a contingent representing the League of Women Voters said they were downtown to educate residents and motivate them to vote for the policies they support.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” she said.

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson told participants that “California is the state that invents the future” and then aimed her remarks directly at Trump, saying, “Two out of every three Californians didn’t vote for you because we know that we stand for what is better and what is good and what is just and what is right in this country.”

Metro officials added service and beefed up security to accommodate the anticipated crowd, though several station platforms were jam-packed with would-be riders as full trains stopped, unable to take on more people.

The diversity of concerns raised by those at the rally was highlighted by the fact that at least one group scheduled its own alternate ending to the day.

AF3IRM and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network left the main march at noon and lead a “Chant Down the Walls” action at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

Another sign of diversity? A plane circled over the downtown area towing a banner that read, “Congratulations President Trump.”

 

Trump Will Get No Help Deporting Immigrants from LAPD, Says Police Chief

November 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Police Department will not actively help federal officials apprehend immigrants who are in the country illegally and are “low-level offenders,” even in the face of President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to deport up to 3 million immigrants who have committed crimes, Police Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday.

The department will still cooperate with federal officials if the immigrant in custody has committed a “serious violent crime,” Beck told reporters at City Hall.

But “the use of local law enforcement for general deportation reasons for low-level offenders is not appropriate,” he said.

While not fitting the typical definition of a “sanctuary city” that shields undocumented immigrants from federal officials, Los Angeles has long had a policy of keeping local police work separate from that of federal immigration officials.

Beck said that as a local law enforcement agency, the police department’s primary goal is to ensure the safety of Angelenos, which depends on officers being trusted by the immigrant community.

“Over 500,000 Angelenos, people who live in Los Angeles, are undocumented immigrants,” Beck said. “I need their cooperation. I need them to work with their local police stations. I need them to be witnesses to violent crime. I need them to be part of the fabric of Los Angeles if we are to
keep this city safe.”

“For a local law enforcement agency to take on the role of immigration enforcement tears that fabric apart,” he said.

Beck said the department will keep people in custody no longer than the typical 48 to 72 hours, and will not honor requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to detain people longer than that.

Beck said the department takes the position that these types of “ICE detainers have been shown to be illegal.”

The police department, however, will not hide the fact that an undocumented immigrant has been taken into custody, according to Beck.

Beck said the “system by which we run folks nationally for warrants notifies ICE automatically,” so they will still release people to immigration enforcement officials as long as they are in their custody, Beck said.

“If they (ICE officials) call, if they make contact, then we give them the release dates, but we don’t hold people past those release dates,” he said. “And if they bail out, they bail out.”

He said that while it would be a “big deal” if the department’s stance were to result in the city losing out on federal dollars, it will not influence whether he does “the right thing.”

“It’s a matter of principle,” he said. “This is a matter of what … is the core value of the Los Angeles Police Department, which I believe far transcends any other motivation.”

Supreme Court Deadlocks on DAPA and Extended DACA

June 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Local immigration-rights activists expressed disappointment today in the U.S. Supreme Court’s inability to reach a decision on President Barack Obama’s effort to expand deportation protection to millions of parents of U.S.-born children, but they vowed to continue fighting for change in immigration policy.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision blocking President Obama’s executive action on immigration means that the estimated 1 million undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles County, one in every 10 Los Angeles residents, will be denied the ability to work with the safety of legal authorization and protection from deportation”, said Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

“We in the Los Angeles labor movement will not let this legal setback deter our work on the ground”, Hicks said. “We stand in support of all workers exercising their rights on the job and in the community. We will continue to support immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, in seeking a better wage, better workplace conditions and protection from wage theft that is running rampant throughout our country”.

Immigrants and activists said to be disappointed for SCOTUS decision on DACA and DAPA. (CHIRLA)

Immigrants and activists said to be disappointed for SCOTUS decision on DACA and DAPA. (CHIRLA)

Obama’s executive action, announced two years ago, would have allowed immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents to request relief from deportation and authorization to work for three years. To qualify, they must have been in the country for more than five years, pass a criminal background check, pay fees and show that their child was born prior to the issuance of the executive order.

Once qualified, they would have also had to pay taxes.

The order also would have expanded the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, by removing the upper age limit of 30. The DACA program would have been amended to offer three years of protection from deportation, up from the previous two years.

The actions were challenged in court by officials in several states, and a lower court judge issued an order blocking the actions, leading to the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nation’s highest court — still short one member—split today 4-4, meaning the lower court ruling remains in effect.

“Justice turned its back to millions today and the politics of obstruction and xenophobia have triumphed instead,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

“A dark sunset approaches our land when justice, compassion and respect for history are ignored by a divided court.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he was disappointed in the court’s inability to reach a decision, saying it will create uncertainty for immigrant families that could be split up by deportation.

“That’s not what America stands for,” he said. “No matter what happens in Washington, the city of Los Angeles remains committed to supporting all families.”

Supreme Court Justices Should Uphold President’s Actions on Immigration

April 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Will the United States Supreme Court decide President Obama was within his right to grant deferred deportation to some persons in the country illegally because the Congress has been unable take action to reform the nations immigration programs?

Or will the Court copy the Congress and be unable to reach a majority decision to resolve the immigration case before them?

At issue before the Court is whether President Obama acted within his Constitutional authority when granting temporary relief from deportation to millions of immigrants within the country without legal authorization, and whether Texas and 25 other states will be harmed by those actions.

Under the president’s executive actions, deportation relief would not be granted to every person in the country illegally, but rather to a select group of non-criminal immigrants who have set down roots in the country, pay taxes, attend school, and are considered a low-priority for deportation by Homeland Security.

The fact is, by only allocating enough funds to deport approximately 400,000 of the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country without authorization, Congress has made a de facto decision to allow millions of the immigrants to remain here.

The claim by Texas and the other states that they will be harmed by the president’s actions makes no sense to us. The federal government did not mandate that they pass a law granting driver’s licenses to non-citizens legally present in the country. They did it on their own.

The notion that Obama’s executive actions will cause the state financial harm is at best speculative.

On what grounds the justices could find that a state suffered harm by having licensed people on the road, or non-citizen workers paying state, local and federal taxes, isn’t clear to us.

We have said before and say again, we believe President Obama was well within his legal prerogative when he granted temporary relief from deportations to people brought to this country as children through no choice of their own, and to the parents of children born in the U.S., and permanent residents.

We don’t believe the President’s actions are changing, throwing out, or usurping the immigration laws of this country, as unworkable as they may be.

What the President is in fact doing is stepping in to upend a stalemate no one in this country is very happy about.

Not even a Republican led Congress should be able to wait for the other side to drop on immigration.

Now let’s hope the Supreme Court justices do what’s right and let the president’s executive actions stand.

 

Click here for the complete transcript of the oral arguments made before the United States Supreme Court.

Justices Appear Divided On Immigration Case

April 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The atmosphere was celebratory, as if they had already won.

In reality, victory, defeat or a draw in a case that could determine the future of millions of immigrants in the country illegally is likely still months away.

On Monday morning — in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C. and in dozens of cities across the country — thousands of immigrants and their supporters rallied in support of President Obama’s executive actions giving four million undocumented immigrants temporary relief from deportation. The rallies took place as the high court’s eight justices listened to oral arguments in United States v. Texas, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the president’s authority to bring the actions.

Questions raised by the eight justices seem to indicate they are deeply divided 4-4, with the four conservative justices leaning toward upholding the lower court’s ruling.

Lea este artículo en Español: Jueces Parecen Estar Divididos En Caso de Inmigración

Defending the president’s actions, petitioners questioned whether Texas and the other states have standing to bring the lawsuit.

In May 2015, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans upheld an injunction issued by a U.S. District judge in Texas in a lawsuit filed by Texas and 25 other Republican leaning states seeking to halt Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The states argued that Obama overstepped his legal authority when he took the executive actions, insisting he does not have the ability to unilaterally set immigration policy.

The legal wrangling has suspended implementation of a program that would extend work permits and protection against deportation to parents of U.S.-born children and expand the existing program for immigrants who arrived illegally as children. The programs – often referred to by their acronyms, DAPA and DACA – would affect an estimated half-million Angelenos.

The three-justice panel ruled that the states had sufficient legal ground to bring suit and that the administration failed to show it would be harmed by further delays.

Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-34), whose district includes parts of East and Northeast Los Angeles, was in the Court for oral arguments and told EGP following the proceedings that the justices were attentive to both sides presenting arguments.

They asked very important questions, such as “how do you define lawful presence?” and “how do you treat the issue of removal [of undocumented immigrants]?” if it was to happen, he said.

For Becerra, the threshold is whether Texas even has the right to bring the case to court,  “because [they] have to prove that the state will be harmed” by the measures.

Thousands of people gathered on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to support DACA and DAPA. (Photo courtesy of office of Congressman Xavier Becerra)

Thousands of people gathered on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to support DACA and DAPA. (Photo courtesy of office of Congressman Xavier Becerra)

In 2015, Texas argued that the state would suffer financial harm due to a Texas policy that allows the state to issue driver’s licenses to noncitizens lawfully living in the state.

Undocumented youth who qualified for DACA in 2012 were not initially allowed to apply for a Texas driver’s license, but that changed a year later when the Obama Administration confirmed that DACA recipients are authorized to be in the United States and therefore considered to be “lawfully present” under federal immigration laws.

During oral arguments Monday, U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli argued that under current Texas law, “They will give a driver’s license now to any category of person who has a document from the Federal government, not only saying you’re lawfully present, but that you’re officially – we’re officially tolerating your presence.”

“There are vast numbers of people under existing Texas law that are eligible for a license even though they are not lawfully present,” Verrelli said during the 90-minute session. He argued that Texas could change its law to deny driver’s licenses to immigrants.

“You would sue them instantly,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts responded. It’s “a real catch-22,” he said, referring to the possibility of the federal government suing Texas over its unequal treatment of immigrants deemed lawfully present in the country.

Speaking in defense of the president’s actions, MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz presented testimonials from three unauthorized immigrant mothers –identified as Jane Does – who would benefit from DAPA, defended the executive actions.

“The justices seemed closely engaged throughout the entire argument,” Saenz said during a telephone news conference following oral arguments. It was necessary to bring the “human faces” of those who are being put at risk, he added.

“Without their participation, the only parties would be political, so it was important to have the perspective of those who are waiting,” he told reporters.

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year has left the court divided 4-4 along partisan lines. If the conservative/liberal split holds, a 4-4 decision would allow the lower court’s decision to stand.

“There would be consideration of what could be done, in court or otherwise, to limit the scope of the nationwide injunction barring implementation of the guidance everywhere” in response, Saenz explained.

Plaintiffs in the case also claim that the immigration orders by President Obama represent a drastic change in the country’s policies without the authorization of Congress.

It’s an argument backed by California Congressman Darrell Issa (R-49) who represents the coastal areas of San Diego and Orange counties.

“The Constitution couldn’t be any clearer. It’s Congress’s job to write the laws and it’s the President’s job to see that they are faithfully executed,” said Issa in a statement Monday.

Justice Anthony Kennedy seemed to agree. “It’s as if the president is setting the policy and the Congress is executing it. That’s just upside down,” said Kennedy, typically the court’s swing vote.

“We have basically 10 million, nine hundred thousand people that cannot be deported because there’s not enough resources,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor after clarifying that Congress had only allocated funds to deport about 400,000 people in the country illegally each year. “So they are here whether we want them or not.”

A coalition of 15 states, including California, plus the District of Columbia and 118 cities and counties, however, have demonstrated support for the president’s actions.

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

The brief, which was co-drafted by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer and their New York City counterparts, 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.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40) who represents East L.A. and parts of Southeast and South L.A. said in a statement that President Obama’s executive actions to expand DACA and implement DAPA are not only legal, but also humane.

“If these actions take effect, more qualified immigrants will be able to come out of the shadows and contribute to our nation. More families will be able to live in peace, free from fears of being torn apart,” she said. “I am confident the Supreme Court will affirm that President Obama has every right to take these executive actions.”

Saenz said he is very optimistic. “I saw a court that was very much for justice.”

A final ruling is expected in June.

Information from City News Service used in this report.

Update  3:45 p.m. April 22, 2016: An earlier version of this story misspelled the names of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard and  Darrell Issa.

 

—-

Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

galvarez@egpnews.com

Advocates Gather to Support Obama’s Immigration Orders

April 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

On the day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue, Southland immigration advocates rallied Monday in support of President Barack Obama’s executive orders extending deportation protection to an estimated 4 million people.

Dozens of activists gathered in front of the federal building in downtown Los Angeles, waving signs and chanting slogans such as “We are America.”

“We are waiting on this decision,” Polo Morales of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles told the crowd.”

Morales said the immigration issue should be on the minds of politicians, and their position on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is already in place to protect children who were brought to the country by their parents from deportation, will factor heavily among immigrant voters.

A pro-immigrant group gathered Monday morning to support DACA and DAPA (Courtesy of Catherine Lyons)

A pro-immigrant group gathered Monday morning to support DACA and DAPA (Courtesy of Catherine Lyons)

“This is what we’re talking about—the folks that are here that are benefiting from this program have citizen children that are eligible to vote,” he said. “So if you’re talking about getting rid of this program you’re also talking about the future of the next election. So how you talk about this program and how you support immigrants is going to (determine) whether you take that seat in the White House or not.”

In May 2015, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans upheld an injunction issued in February by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas. That injunction was issued in response to lawsuits filed by 26 states seeking to halt Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Those states argued that Obama overstepped his legal authority when he took the executive actions, insisting he does not have the ability to unilaterally set immigration policy.

The legal wrangling has suspended implementation of a program that would extend work permits and protection against deportation to parents of U.S.-born children and expand the existing program for immigrants who arrived illegally as children. The programs—often referred to by their acronyms, DAPA and DACA—would affect an estimated half-million Angelenos.

The three-justice panel ruled that the states had sufficient legal ground to bring suit and that the administration failed to show it would be harmed by further delays.

Los Angeles and nearly 120 other cities and counties across the country signed on to legal pleadings in support of Obama’s programs.

“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, which was co-drafted by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and New York City counterparts.

The brief 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.

Local elected officials raised their voices in support of Obama’s actions.

“The Supreme Court decision that will stem from today’s oral arguments will affect millions of aspiring Americans who have already put down roots in our communities and are contributing to our economy,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena. “Tearing those families apart would be costly and contrary to our nation’s values. That is why members of Congress, governors, mayors and legal scholars from across the country have spoken out in support of these actions.”

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, called Obama’s actions local and humane.

“If these actions take effect, more qualified immigrants will be able to come out of the shadows and contribute to our nation,” she said. “More families will be able to live in peace, free from fears of being torn apart.”

The executive actions have been met with opposition from Republicans, who insist that Congress is responsible for crafting immigration laws.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich said earlier this year the Supreme Court should find the president “clearly lacks statutory authority to change the law without Congressional action.”

While Antonovich said he supports legal immigration as “vital to our nation’s economy and culture,” he added that “illegal immigration costs county taxpayers nearly $2 billion dollars a year and siphons resources away from services for legal immigrants and county residents.”

Supreme Court to Take Up Immigration Case

January 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

East Los Angeles resident and immigration rights activist Isabel Medina woke up Tuesday to a text message saying the Supreme Court would review President Obama’s executive action on immigration.
“I was so excited, I woke up my kids and told them about the good news,” Medina told EGP in Spanish. “I called my husband at work and we celebrated one more step forward to legalization.”

Her two U.S. born children—ages seven and nine—didn’t quite comprehend the importance of the decision, she said. “But they were happy and said, ‘Mom, now you can go visit grandma [in Mexico]’” recalled Medina with tears on her eyes.

Lea este artículo en Español: Tribunal Supremo toma el Caso de Inmigración 

The Supreme Court justices’ decision to review the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans’ ruling in Texas v. United States gives hope to Medina and as many as five million immigrants in the country illegally who could get temporary relief from deportation under the president’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DAPA) programs.

Announced by Obama in November 2014, DACA and DAPA would allow undocumented parents of U.S. born children and lawful permanent residents, and undocumented immigrants who arrived to the country as children and were over the age of 31 in 2012, to obtain protection against deportation and to receive a work permit and social security number.

On February 16, 2015—two days before expanded DACA would take effect— 26 predominately Republican states led by Texas filed a lawsuit to block the programs, claiming that Obama’s executive orders enacting the programs exceeded his authority under the US Constitution.

A Texas judge and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans agreed, stopping the programs from going into effect.

The Obama Administration and 15 states – including California -appealed the Fifth Circuit’s ruling to the Supreme Court.

Isabel Medina (center) and other activists celebrate the decision from the Supreme Court to hear the cases of DACA and DAPA. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Isabel Medina (center) and other activists celebrate the decision from the Supreme Court to hear the cases of DACA and DAPA. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“We know it’s legal, we know it’s common sense. We know it’s just a lawful exercise of executive discretion that has been legally used by presidents in both parties; [Dwight D.] Eisenhower, [Ronald] Reagan, [George W.] Bush, [Bill] Clinton and of course Obama,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles (CHIRLA) during a press conference responding to the announcement Tuesday morning.

“[Immigrants] are not hiding, they work hard every single day to support their families and to support this country’s economy…we need to stop deporting men, women and children who work hard,” added Maria Elena Durazo, general vice president for immigration, civil rights and diversity with UNITE HERE.

Justices will likely hear arguments in April; a final decision is expected in June.

In California, about 1.5 million could benefit from DACA and DAPA with about half a million in Los Angeles County, according to Salas.

If the Supreme Courts rules in favor of the Administration, unauthorized immigrants eligible under DACA or DAPA could be faced with a short timeframe for applying for the programs before Obama leaves office and if a Republican replaces him as president January 2017.

Immigration rights activists have been urging people who could qualify for the three-year reprieve from deportation and the right to work legally to gather the documents they will need to apply if the Supreme Courts rules in their favor.

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), who said she was among those who first urged the president to issue the executive orders, said via a teleconference call Tuesday that the fight continues because “it is the right thing” to do.

“We know we are in the right legally, morally and we stand behind the president’s actions,” she said.
Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (CA-34) said in a statement that the president acted “well within his authority” in proposing commonsense immigration measures.

“For Americans harmed—or simply frustrated—by our broken immigration system, this could be a sign of good news to come,” he said. “I am confident that the Supreme Court will rely on the Constitution and precedent to affirm his actions.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis supported the president’s efforts by advocating for the formation of a county DACA/DAPA Task Force to implement the president’s orders and to allocate more local resources to assist youth who qualify for DACA.

“Last November, the County Board of Supervisors signed onto an amicus brief urging that the U.S. Supreme Court review the Fifth Circuit’s decision,” she said. “Now is the time to embrace our immigrants because they are vital contributors to our society.”

Medina, visibly joyful during CHIRLA’s press conference, told EGP she will fight relentlessly to be heard and to end her 19 years living in the shadows.

“My children worry about my situation,” Medina said. “At their young age they know what immigration is about and they fear I may not be home one day.”

—-

Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Supreme Curt Decides to Review Obama’s Executive Orders on Immigration

January 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Southland immigration advocates and elected officials today hailed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to review a legal challenge that has stalled President Barack Obama’s executive orders extending deportation protection to an estimated 4 million people.

“Immigrants have always been vital to our nation’s spirit of innovation, ingenuity and inclusiveness,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to review Texas v. United States brings us another step closer to more fully integrating those residents into American life. I urge the justices to reach a decision that preserves family bonds across our country and speaks to the best of who we are as Americans.”

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, said she was among those who urged Obama to issue the executive orders in the first place, and she is looking forward to the review by the nation’s highest court.

“Allowing these aspiring Americans to continue to work and contribute without fear of deportation or being separated from their families is the right thing to do morally, economically and legally,” Chu said.

“I am confident that the Supreme court will uphold President Obama’s programs as lawful exercises of executive discretion.”

In May 2015, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans upheld an injunction issued in February by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas. That injunction was issued in response to lawsuits filed by 26 states seeking to halt Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The legal wrangling has suspended implementation of a program that would extend work permits and protection against deportation to parents of U.S.-born children and expand an existing program for immigrants who arrived illegally as children. The programs—often referred to by their acronyms, DAPA and DACA—would affect an estimated half-million Angelenos.

The three-justice panel ruled that the states had sufficient legal ground to bring suit and that the administration failed to show it would be harmed by further delays.

Los Angeles and more than 80 other cities and counties across the country signed on to legal pleadings asking the Supreme Court to review the case.

“The DACA/DAPA programs have the potential to change the circumstances for many undocumented individuals without legal status in the United States,” Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo said. “In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, we must take incremental steps to move people out of the shadows.”

California Attorney General Kamala Harris also hailed the decision, calling it “a great day for California and the entire nation.”

“DAPA and expanded DACA, which were a lawful exercise of the president’s authority, will bring law-abiding immigrant families out of the shadows, boost our economy and make communities safer,” Harris said.

Archbishop Jose Gomez, leader of the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles said that speaking as a pastor, the fear of deportation makes life intolerable for millions of families.

The executive actions at issue in this case are temporary and they are no substitute for the comprehensive immigration reform our country needs,” Gomez said. “But these actions would be a measure of mercy, providing peace of mind to nearly 9 million people, including 4.5 million children.”

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