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.

 

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Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

galvarez@egpnews.com

Is it Appropriate to Disregard A Huge Number of Americans?

December 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments in a case originating out of Texas that could force all 50 states to redraw election districts for local, state offices and the House of Representatives.
The case centers on the question of the “one person, one vote” policy that has long guided the drawing of election districts based on U.S. Census population data collected every 10 years.
A state’s number of seats in the House can increase or decrease based on its population growth or decline. The Census tallies the number of residents in an area, irrespective of age, citizenship, or other factors.
In the Texas case, two rural Republicans allege the current interpretation of “one person, one vote” has denied them “equal protection of the law” because undocumented immigrants are included in the numbers used to set election districts. They say undocumented immigrants are not eligible to vote, so should therefore not be taken into consideration when election boundaries are drawn
The issue before the court is whether representation in the congress, state and local governments should be awarded based on the number of voters in a district rather than total population.
That raises questions not only about whether undocumented immigrants should be counted, but also whether children and felons should be taken into consideration when election districts are formed.
It is our belief that if the Supreme Court decides only voters should be counted, millions of people in this country would be disenfranchised just because they don’t or can’t vote.
Such a decision would do tremendous harm to California, which could see a disproportionate loss in federal taxpayer funded funding revenue at an even higher rate than it currently does.
As a result, many in the country will wind up being taxed without representation.
Should the justices rule in favor of the Texans, states with large numbers of children, like California, or people who choose not to vote or who have lost their right vote, will see a large percentage of their residents denied “equal protection of the law.”
The injustice of casting a huge number of the U.S. population as irrelevant will only deal another blow to a society already divided by vast economic disparity, causing further discontent in the U.S.
It is our hope that the Supreme Court justices will reject the Texans’ claim and allow the long-held interpretation of “one person, one vote” to stand.

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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