L.A. Weighs In On Case of Colorado Same-Sex Couple

November 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) -The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office helped write a brief submitted Monday to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a same-sex couple denied service by a Colorado baker because of their sexual orientation.

The brief prepared by the city’s lawyers, along with legal staff for Santa Clara County and New York City, was filed on behalf of 70 cities and counties and 80 mayors across the United States.

The case dates back to 2012, when a couple — David Mullins and Charlie Craig — went to Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, to order a cake for their wedding, but were denied service by owner Jack Phillips because they were a same-sex couple.

The brief, filed in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, argues that the Supreme Court should reject Phillips’ claim that he can refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples because making a cake is an act of expression protected under the First Amendment.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that the bakery had violated Colorado law by discriminating against Mullins and Craig. The bakery sought review of the ruling by the nation’s highest court, which is scheduled to hear moral arguments on Dec. 5.

Amid the Blaring Headlines, Routine Reports of Hate-Fueled Violence

July 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Last Wednesday, July 19, was something of a busy news day. There was word North Korea was making preparations for yet another provocative missile test. The Supreme Court, in its latest ruling in the controversial travel ban case, said that people from the six largely Muslim countries covered by the immigration enforcement action could enter the U.S. if they had a grandparent here, refusing to overturn a ruling that grandparents qualified as “bona fide relatives.” And then, late in the day, President Donald Trump gave a remarkable interview to The New York Times, one that, among other things, laid into Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The day also produced its share of what, sadly, has come to qualify as routine news: A Muslim organization in Sacramento, California, received a package in the mail that included a Koran in a tub of lard; police in Boise, Idaho, identified a teenage boy as the person likely responsible for scratching racist words on a car; in Lansing, Michigan, police launched a search for a suspect in the case of an assault against a Hispanic man. The victim had been found with a note indicating his attacker had been motivated by racial animus.

The specter of hate incidents and crimes 2014 some of them fueled by the nastiness of the 2016 presidential campaign 2014 felt white hot months ago. The issue remained high-profile as several horrific murders 2014 a South Asian immigrant slain in Kansas City, a homeless black man butchered near Times Square in New York 2014 generated outrage and national news coverage.</p><p>Documenting Hate, an effort by a coalition of news organizations, has sought to sustain a focus on incidents and crimes of racial or religious or sexual prejudice even as the temperature around the issue rises or falls. One of the truths the effort has laid bare is that such crimes are so commonplace that they can seem an almost ordinary part of the fabric of life in America.

Scattered among the news items on that single July day 2014 captured in local write-ups and wire-service briefs 2014 was the attempted murder of a black employee at an auto parts store in Desert Hot Springs, California, an attack during which the shooter repeated racial epithets; the menacing of a mosque in Georgia, where repeated telephone threats warned that “white people are going to kill you”; an Indian-American Ph.D. candidate in California had her car’s windshield shattered by a rock as she drove to work, glass from the window embedding in her skin and hair. “Go back to your own country,” the assailant had screamed.

“I was shocked,” Simranjit Grewal told the India West newspaper. “Another human being was trying to attack me, to hurt me.”

Earlier this year, ProPublica reported on <a href=“https://www.propublica.org/article/an-ocean-apart-but-united-in-concerns-about-hate-crimes”>studies done in Great Britain on hate crimes</a> in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. Immigrants in the country faced violence, having been demonized as a threat during the polarizing and ultimately successful effort to withdraw from the European Union. One of the researchers’ findings was that the hate incidents very often did not involve fringe, ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi groups. Instead, they were perpetrated by, as one researcher put it, “ordinary people.”

The accounts marshaled by the Documenting Hate coalition suggest the same is true in the U.S. Amid the hundreds upon hundreds of news reports of crimes and insults and threats we’ve collected, there’s an everyman quality to the accused. While the black man killed in New York was allegedly slain by a consumer of white supremacy propaganda, the immigrant shot to death in Kansas City was allegedly killed by an unremarkable suspect, a man who had worked menial jobs across his life and, according to some associates, been in a spiral of drinking and depression for months.

The kinds of suspects implicated in the events of July 19 2014 a teen, a somewhat bumbling young man who managed to shoot himself in the course of trying to kill an auto parts worker 2014 turn up on other days, in other crime reports. Two college students in Berkeley, California, were charged on July 18 with spray-painting racist graffiti. A man in Oregon was arrested after swearing at and harassing a Muslim women over a 20-block span, pretending to shoot a gun and screaming at her to leave the country and remove her headdress. The man, in tears, later said his “stupidity” had got the best of him.

The news reports collected as part of the Documenting Hate project include more than just crimes. The project also tracks news accounts dealing with reports on things such as hate crime statistics and calls for new hate crimes legislation. This month, for instance, there was the formal release of a Center on Islamic-American Relations <a href=“https://www.cair.com/press-center/press-releases/14476-cair-report-shows-2017-on-track-to-becoming-one-of-worst-years-ever-for-anti-muslim-hate-crimes.html”>report on anti-Muslim crimes</a>, one that showed a huge spike over the last six months, a 91 percent rise in reported incidents over the same period last year.

Also included, though, are reports of steps being taken to combat the crimes and limit their incidence and damage 2014 committees formed, outreach initiated. This month in Montgomery, Alabama, several organizations joined to run what they called “bystander intervention training,” meant to encourage people to act when witnessing the harassment of people because of their race or religion. In Anne Arundel, Maryland, there was a protest on the courthouse steps organized in part by the NAACP to highlight a recent case of a noose being hung in a local middle school.

And in Washington, D.C., there was a conference on hate crimes run by the Department of Justice overseen by Jeff Sessions. Should the news of July 19 2014 Trump’s first salvo in what seems to many to be a bid to drive Sessions from office 2014 result in a new attorney general, one of Sessions’ final acts will have been an impassioned promise to fight hate crimes.

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 Court Urged to Lift Ban On Obama’s Immigration Actions

March 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

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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