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.”

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 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.”

Tribunal Supremo Pospone Decisión Ante Medidas Migratorias

January 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

El Tribunal Supremo federal pospuso hoy su decisión de tomar en consideración o no el caso de las acciones ejecutivas del presidente Barack Obama en materia migratoria, una decisión que, tras su fallo, afectará a más de cinco millones de indocumentados en el país.

En caso de aceptar, y tras meses de litigios, la máxima corte pondría fin al debate sobre la legitimidad del mandatario para otorgar alivio migratorio a los jóvenes inmigrantes que llegaron al país siendo niños, así como a los padres de ciudadanos estadounidenses o residentes que estén en situación irregular.

Obama decidió actuar de manera unilateral después de que el Congreso, de mayoría republicana, no accediera a legislar sobre una reforma integral del sistema migratorio, una de sus prioridades desde que se presentara a la Presidencia del país en 2008, pero sus medidas fueron bloqueadas en los tribunales por sus oponentes.

Los jueces retomarán de nuevo su deliberación el martes de la semana entrante, día en el que podrían tomar una decisión, o bien posponerlo de nuevo al viernes siguiente, cuando también tienen prevista una nueva serie de consideraciones.

Ya durante su campaña presidencial de 2008, Obama se comprometió a solucionar los problemas derivados de un sistema migratorio que todo el espectro político coincide en que está “roto”, sin embargo, los republicanos en el Congreso no han permitido que en sus siete años de mandato se aprobara una reforma integral del mismo.

Así pues, el mandatario demócrata decidió hacer uso de su poder ejecutivo para al menos evitar la deportación de varios millones de indocumentados, una postura que, según los conservadores, ha cruzado los límites constitucionales.

Primero, favoreció a los jóvenes inmigrantes llegados al país cuando eran niños en 2012 con la llamada acción diferida o DACA, para ampliar dichas exenciones en 2014 a los padres inmigrantes de ciudadanos o residentes (DAPA), unas medidas que pretenden, en palabras de la Casa Blanca, “dar prioridad a la deportación de criminales, y no a las familias”.

Liderados por Texas, un total de 26 estados, la mayoría gobernados por republicanos, presentaron una demanda contra las acciones ejecutivas del presidente que provocó el bloqueo de su puesta en marcha en febrero del año pasado.

Si los nueve jueces que integran el Supremo deciden no tomar el caso a consideración, las medidas del mandatario quedarían invalidadas.

SCOTUS to Weigh In on DACA, DAPA

November 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Supreme Court will have the final say on immigration measures issued by President Barack Obama after a federal appeals court Monday ruled against his executive order that would have protected millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it will take the case to the Supreme Court after disagreeing with the decision made after months of deliberation by the New Orleans Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upholds the suspension of the president’s measures.

“The Department of Justice remains committed to take actions to solve the immigration issue as soon as possible…giving priority to the deportation of the worst offenders, and not people who have long lived in the U.S. and who are raising American children,” assured Spokesman Patrick Rodenbush.

“The Department disagrees with the adverse ruling by the Fifth Circuit and intends on seeking a review by the Supreme Court of the United States,” added Rodenbush.

Once the appeal if received by the US Supreme Court, justices still have to decide whether to review the merits of the case. If they do agree to take up the case, it’s unlikely a decision will be handed down before Obama leaves office next year.

The immediate impact of the Court of Appeals’ decision is the continued suspension of the president’s order that would have allowed millions of families across the country, that meet certain criteria, to apply for temporary relief from deportation by immigration authorities and in some cases to obtain a permit to work in the country.

During his daily briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest emphasized that the United States government “continues to firmly believe in the power of legal arguments” presented in favor of the measure and expressed optimism that the Supreme Court would overturn the Court of Appeals’ decision.

The decision by the Obama Administration to put the case before the High Court was widely expected by activists and immigrants, and could potentially create a battle over the president’s immigration policies in the middle of an election year and through the November 2016 presidential election.

The appeals court’s decision puts a halt to further implementation of the president’s 2012 Deferred Action program, widely known as DACA, an executive order protecting millions of young people from deportation who arrived in the US illegally as children, and DAPA, the president’s expansion last year of the program to include the parents of US-born children or legal residents.

Plaintiffs in the case, representing a coalition of 26 states, mostly Republicans, led by Texas, claim executive actions on immigration by Obama represent a drastic change in the country’s policies without the authorization of Congress.

On the other side of the battle is a coalition of 15 states, including California, plus the District of Columbia that decided to support defense of the president’s actions. The coalition will continue the fight at the Supreme Court, warned California Attorney General Kamala Harris during a press conference Tuesday. California has the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the country.

Harris, who said one in three potential beneficiaries of the executive actions reside in her state, stressed the “indisputable” positive impact of the measures on the California and US economy and the devastating consequences for immigrant families who continue “living in the shadows”.

Walter Dillinger, attorney general under former President Bill Clinton (1993-2001), said that, in legal terms, there is no doubt that “Congress has the authority to legislate on immigration and deportations,” but warned that making no decision “delegates” authority on the matter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The appeals court ruling “was not a surprise” to activists and immigrant advocates. Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the ruling was “completely based on politics and not law.”

“It is well established that the President has the legal authority to issue these protections. I hope the Supreme Court will not delay in giving a fair hearing in this appeal, so millions of families no longer live without fear of being separated.”

History: Same Sex Marriage Law of the Land

June 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today legalizing same-sex marriage is a victory for civil rights, but it may not change the way all Americans view gay and lesbian couples, legal experts said.

“The shift in public opinion has been incredible, but there’s still work to be done,” Sam Erman, law professor at the USC Gould School of Law and a constitutional law expert, told City News Service. “The question of equal rights is going to be fought in smaller battles.

“For many people, their opposition to same-sex marriage is grounded in religious beliefs. And my suspicion is that those kinds of debates may be very deeply felt. I don’t think this one ruling will entirely free you from the way others view you.”

Erman said he was struck by how quickly the tide turned among the general public from resistance to acceptance of same-sex marriage.

“It wasn’t that long ago when it wasn’t legal to engage in consensual sexual acts — and now the institution of marriage has opened up,” said Erman, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of today’s ruling.

Los Angeles family law attorney Steve Mindel said the ruling “legitimizes the relationship — much like interracial marriage in the ‘50s.”

“The U.S. is going to become united now on this one issue,” Mindel said. “The ruling stops states from going back and forth and changing their minds about it.”

With the decision, an estimated 70,000 same-sex couples living in the 13 states that most recently did not allow it are expected to marry in the next three years.

The ruling will impact tax, real estate and other laws where the federal government requires people to be married to obtain certain benefits, Mindel said, adding that the courts will have to create new systems to handle such issues.

There are roughly 1 million same-sex couples — married and unmarried — living together in the United States, according to the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, which found that the number of married same-sex couples has tripled since 2013.

Supreme Court to Take Up Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

January 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Same-sex marriage proponents in the Southland and across the country hailed today’s announcement that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether gay and lesbian couples have the right to wed under the U.S. Constitution.

 

Although same-sex marriage is already legal in California, the nation’s highest court will decide whether the Constitution’s 14th Amendment requires states to permit same-sex marriages, and whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where it is already legal.

 

Attorney Gloria Allred greets Prop 8 protesters at the East Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office. (EGP Archives 2011)

Attorney Gloria Allred greets Prop 8 protesters at the East Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office. (EGP Archives 2011)

“This is a big step in our long journey toward realizing our nation’s founding promise that all of us, no matter who we are or who we love, shall be treated equally,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

 

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia — the city’s first openly gay mayor — wrote on his Twitter page, “America is about to put a ring on it.”

 

Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro, also took to Twitter to hail the announcement as “welcome news,” adding, “It is time for #marriageequality.”

 

The Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Church in Pasadena said the court’s announcement is good news not just for same-sex couples, “but for anyone who believes that liberty and justice for all really means it.”

 

“It is long past time to recognize that equal protection is not equal protection unless it protects all Americans equally,” Russell said. “As an American citizen I believe in those core values we pledge to every time we pledge allegiance to our flag — liberty and justice for all. And as a priest and pastor, I believe in the biblical value that ‘the truth will set us free.”’

 

The cases being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court involve four states — Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee — where same-sex marriages are banned. Those states are among the 14 remaining in the country that do not allow same-sex unions.

 

The court is expected to hear arguments in April, with a ruling likely in June.

 

In March 2000, California voters approved Prop. 22, which specified in state law that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California. But in May of 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it discriminated against gays, and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples got married in the ensuing months.

 

Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly got Prop. 8 on the November 2008 ballot to amend the state constitution, and it was approved by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.

 

In May 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8 but also ruled that the unions of roughly 18,000 same-sex couples who were wed in 2008 prior to its passage would remain valid.

 

Same-sex marriage supporters took their case to federal court, and U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled in August 2010 that Proposition 8 “both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.”

 

Backers of Proposition 8 — ProtectMarriage.com — appealed to the 9th Circuit, because then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-Attorney General Jerry Brown declined to do so. The appellate court heard arguments in 2011 but put a decision on hold while it awaited a state Supreme Court ruling on the ability of Prop. 8 backers to press the case forward despite the state’s refusal to appeal. The state Supreme Court decided that Prop. 8 supporters had legal standing, so the 9th Circuit moved ahead with its consideration of the case, hearing more arguments on a motion by Prop. 8 backers asking that Walker’s ruling be thrown out because the judge was in a long-term same-sex relationship that he had not disclosed.

 

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in2012 that the proposition’s primary impact was to “lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.”

 

“It stripped same-sex couples of the ability they previously possessed to obtain and use the designation of ‘marriage’ to describe their relationships,” according to the court’s decision.

 

That ruling led to an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2013 that Prop. 8 backers lacked legal standing to challenge the 9th Circuit’s ruling, clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California.

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