Immigration Reform News: Fifth Circuit Court's DACA, DAPA Hearing Attracts Immigrant Rights Leaders, Protesters
Immigrant rights advocates are set to make their presence known in New Orleans as the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court hears arguments on President Barack Obama's deferred action programs' legality.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear plaintiff and defendant arguments about the temporary injunction placed on Obama's November 2014 executive actions that expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and created the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs, which would have provided temporary, but renewable, relief from deportation for approximately 4.9 million undocumented immigrants currently in living in the U.S. The DACA and DAPA eligibility would depend on requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The implementation of the deferred action programs, according to supporters, would allow undocumented immigrants the opportunity to apply for work authorization and stay with their families. Immigrant-rights supporters stated the longer the deferred action programs are delayed, then more families will be separated and millions of dollars in tax revenue are lost.
"We're talking about a number of low-income immigrants who otherwise aren't able to provide for their families, and so we know a lot of folks are forced to work 'under the table,' and so this (DACA and DAPA) allows them to come out and work lawfully and provide for their families," National Immigration Law Center (NILC) staff attorney Alvaro Huerta told Latin Post.
Huerta stated that deferred action has provided positive examples, notably the 2012 DACA program granting people to continue their education and work better jobs.
A variety of immigrant rights advocates will be in New Orleans on July 10, including Democratic U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, NILC Executive Director Marielena Hincapié, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Executive Vice President Esther Lopez and family members impacted by deportation.
Also in attendance will be the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), who are sending members from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The TOP members reside in the same state whose current governor, Greg Abbott, initiated the lawsuit. Abbott claimed Obama overreached his executive power privileges and the deferred actions' implementation would be too costly.
"Every time a court has delayed implementation of President Obama's executive actions, Gov. Abbott has celebrated keeping our families in danger of deportation," said TOP member Teresa Rangel, who will be to New Orleans. "It's sad and disappointing that the governor can continue to be so out of touch that he considers it a victory to keep families like ours in fear of deportation."
"We think that the lawsuit if frivolous," said Huerta, later adding, "We think it's pretty clear that these programs are legal, that they are constitutionally sound and should be allowed to be implemented."
The Fifth Circuit Court will hear one-hour arguments, each for the plaintiff and defendant. According to Huerta, the arguments will be whether or not the Obama administration followed the appropriate procedures in issuing the 2014 immigration executive action. A ruling is not expected on Friday. Huerta said a decision could come in "several weeks to a few months," although the federal government requested the case to be expedited.
Huerta acknowledged the Fifth Circuit Court does tend to lean conservative since Republican presidents appointed two of the three judges.
"We're confident that all of the programs are perfectly constitutional, and any court, no matter political leaning, should find that these programs should be allowed to take place," the NILC staff attorney added.
The hearing is only about Obama's November 2014 immigration executive actions, which included an update on DACA. The DACA guidelines from summer 2012 are not affected by Abbott's lawsuit.
Abbott launched the lawsuit during his final weeks as Texas attorney general. His successor, Ken Paxton, has helped continue the lawsuit. A Texas federal judge, Andrew Hanen, issued the temporary injunction on the federal government from launching the updated DACA and new DAPA programs. Since then, the Justice Department has issued an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court.
Abbott's lawsuit has received support from 25 states, namely those with Republican governors and/or attorneys general. The 25 states joining Texas are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
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