Obama Immigration Action: Politicians and Latino, Immigrant Rights Groups React to Immigration Executive Action Delay
Federal Judge Andrew Hanen issued a temporary block this week on President Barack Obama's immigration executive actions, specifically the president's two deferred action programs, and immigrants' rights groups and politicians have criticized the ruling.
Judge Hanen issued the temporary injunction, which would prevent the Obama administration from implementing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs. The temporary injunction goes in favor with Texas and 25 other states seeking to block the immigration executive actions. Hanen has allowed for the Obama administration to appeal his temporary injunction. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced on Tuesday morning the U.S. Department of Justice's indication to file an appeal.
U.S. politicians, national Latino organizations and women and immigrants' rights groups have criticized Hanen's decision. U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., who has led a national tour promoting the immigration executive action acknowledged the delay but reassured people will not be deterred.
"We may be delayed, but we will not be deterred. In our neighborhoods, this is about defending families and making sure that children who are U.S. citizens grow up with their parents. It is that simple," Gutiérrez said in a statement. "And there is a great deal of passion and determination in the fight to defend families. I am telling immigrant communities to keep preparing to sign up millions of families for protection from deportation."
Reaction within House politicians continued from Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the latter serving as Ranking Member on the House Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee. In a joint statement, Conyers and Lofgren expressed disappointment in Hanen's ruling.
"We believe that, upon swift appeal to the Fifth Circuit, the Court will find the Department of Homeland Security acted within well-established existing constitutional and statutory authority to prioritize enforcement resources, increase border security, and ensure accountability in our broken immigration system," Lofgren and Conyers said.
Texas had led the coalition of 26 states to halt the immigration executive action. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, issued his support to expand DACA. Doggett has called for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the temporary injunction and criticized Hanen's ruling as a "judicial overreach."
"This incredible, last-minute judicial overreach heightens uncertainty for young people, many of whom know no country but America, and all of whom have much to contribute," Doggett said in a statement sent to Latin Post. "Portions of the opinion read like a partisan stump speech. I believe that the President's power to set immigration priorities, as exercised by prior Presidents, will ultimately be upheld. Today we continue to urge students to complete their immigration applications for filing as soon as this judicial stay is lifted."
The Texas Organizing Project (TOP), a civic and electoral engagement organization, recognized Hanen's ruling as a setback and also echoed for the Fifth Circuit Court to reject the injunction.
"The ruling is a temporary setback and it does not change the fact that the President's executive order is a victory for immigrant families. What is disappointing is that Gov. Abbott put Texas on the same footing with Arizona's notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his cheap political stunts. No longer can Texas and the Texas GOP say that we're not like Arizona or Alabama when it comes to attacking Latinos and immigrants," TOP Political Director Joaquin Guerra said, adding the organization will continue its efforts to have undocumented immigrants ready to apply for the deferred action programs.
League of United Latino American Citizens (LULAC) National Executive Director Brent Wilkes also conveyed disappointment with the injunction.
"It is disappointing, that after years of promises from Republican leaders claiming to support bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform their only response has been to block efforts that would bring relief to millions," Wilkes said.
"We have heard from our Republican allies who say they have a moral obligation to vote against a position they believe to be unconstitutional. This position ignores the fact that Administrative action was only necessary because of the Republican failure to act on pending bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform," continued Wilkes. "Attempts by anti-immigrant proponents to block the implementation of the DACA and DAPA programs only fuel our resolve to assist the millions of undocumented individuals who could benefit from the President's Executive Orders. We are confident that the President's action will ultimately be found by the Court to be constitutional and cleared for implementation."
Wilkes added LULAC will also maintain its efforts to educate and assist families in preparing for the application process.
Presente.org Executive Director Arturo Carmona referred Hanen as a "far-right" judge.
"Far-right judges cannot stop the inevitable: We will not allow millions of Latino and immigrant families to be torn apart for Republican point-scoring," Carmona said.
"After shopping around for a friendly judge, Republicans have won this battle, but all serious constitutional experts agree that this executive order will stand. It's just a matter of time. Latinos across the country overwhelmingly want Executive Actions to ease deportations, not legal gimmicks."
Carmona noted a lot of effort went into securing undocumented immigrant families stay together with the immigration executive actions. He acknowledged Republicans should be aware of losing the Latino voting bloc for the 2016 elections.
"Reform is inevitable, and a few extremist judges won't stop it," Carmona said.
Not all organizations criticized Hanen's ruling. Republican National Committee (RNC) Director of Hispanic Media Ruth Guerra said, "The president, a former Constitutional law professor, said 25 times he didn't have the legal authority to unilaterally act on immigration. He was right, and the court agrees. President Obama's political games and unconstitutional overreach have only made matters worse."
Guerra noted the 25 occasions when Obama stated he could not issue an immigration executive action, dating back to May 5, 2010, during the Cinco De Mayo Reception, he said, "Anybody who tells you it's going to be easy or I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn't been paying attention how this town works."
The president also stated during a Univision Town Hall on March 28, 2011, "There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., echoed similar remarks as Guerra, acknowledging Obama's numerous statements about his authority to issue immigration executive actions. He said, "[Obama] doesn't have the authority to take the kinds of actions he once referred to as 'ignoring the law' and 'unwise and unfair.' Senate Democrats -- especially those who've voiced opposition to the President's executive overreach -- should end their partisan filibuster of Department of Homeland Security funding."
McConnell is referring to the DHS funding bill for 2015, which Senate Democrats have blocked because of House amendments defunding Obama's immigration executive actions.
In a statement on Tuesday morning, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. Department of Justice will issue an appeal to Hanen's temporary injunction.
For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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