Immigration News Today: Latinos, Immigrant Rights Advocates Observe DAPA’s Original Implementation Date
Six months after President Barack Obama announced his latest immigration executive action, the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program's future remains unknown. To commemorate what would have been DAPA's implementation date, Latino and immigrant rights are hosting events and rallies for the deferred action program that could result in a GDP increase of $164 billion by 2025.
The DAPA program would have allowed undocumented immigrant parents to request temporary deferred action from deportation and obtain employment authorization if the individuals lived in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010, and is a parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before Nov. 20, 2014 -- the same day as Obama's immigration executive action address. The third criterion for the undocumented immigrant parent to receive deferred action is to pass a criminal background check and not be an enforcement priority for deportation from the U.S. prior to Nov. 20.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), one of the three immigrant-related agencies under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), would be responsible for DAPA and handle each application on a case-by-case basis. According to a memorandum by U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, DAPA applicants will have to pay $465 for the "work authorization and biometrics fees" and no fee waivers and "very limited" fee exemptions.
On behalf of Texas, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott launched a lawsuit to block DAPA and the expanded DACA guidelines. While he now serves as governor of Texas, current Attorney General Ken Paxton continued the efforts. The two Republicans claimed Obama's immigration executive actions were unconstitutional and attracted support from 25 other states.
Judge Andrew Hanen granted a temporary injunction on DAPA and DACA, but the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued an appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The three judges of the Fifth Circuit Court will determine the future of DAPA.
Hundreds of faith, labor, business, and immigrant rights groups and elected officials are holding events across the country on what would have been DAPA's rollout date. Some of the organizations participating include America's Voice, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, Mi Familia Vota, SEIU, United We Dream, United Farm Workers and UNITE-HERE.
"I'm done waiting for politicians like Gov. Abbott to come around and accept our contributions to our communities," said Ehiracenia Vazquez, member of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), in a statement.
"May 19 was supposed to be the day that I could apply for DAPA, when my family could finally have the hope of living without fear of being separated. Gov. Abbott and the other politicians need to drop their lawsuit blocking DAPA. Our community is going to fight harder than ever against those standing in the way."
TOP has been urging Abbott to meet with immigrant families, but he has not heeded their message.
"My undocumented status affects my life and my family every day," said TOP member Felicitas Alonzo, who would be eligible to apply for DAPA. "My three U.S.-born daughters mean everything to me, and I'm taking dentistry classes right now so that I can better provide them with a better future. Greg Abbott needs to put aside his hostile feelings toward President Obama and do what's right for our families by dropping his frivolous lawsuit."
AFL-CIO's Executive Council Immigration Committee Chair Jim Boland, during a press conference on Monday, called for the deferred action programs to go in effect and for comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship since it will have positive impacts on immigrant workers.
"As a former immigrant worker myself, now a U.S. citizen, I am proud to stand with my union brothers and sisters and millions of hard-working immigrant workers in our ongoing struggle to secure legal status for all eligible workers now under the provisions of DACA and DAPA," said Boland in a statement. "Labor, worker and community advocates will not be deterred from helping to expand opportunity for the nation's most vulnerable workers. It's unconscionable for a country that prides itself on being a 'nation of immigrants' -- we can and will find a better way forward."
Obama's immigration executive actions have been a controversial topic for Republican politicians seeking to become the next president.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Obama acted similar to a "Latin American dictator" when issuing last November's executive actions. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said the executive actions mirrored "counterfeiting immigration papers, because there's no legal authority to do what he's doing." Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said he would defund Obama's immigration order.
"In discussing President Obama's executive actions that protect DREAMers and families from deportation, Republicans have called the President 'treasonous,' compared him to a 'Latin American dictator' and 'a tyrant,' and warned that a Latino majority in the U.S. could conduct an 'ethnic cleansing,'" said People For the American Way's (PFAW) Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery.
"Instead of supporting policies that keep families from being deported -- or actually working to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship -- Republicans took the executive actions as yet another opportunity to vilify the president and appeal to the anti-immigrant Republican base."
For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: email@example.com.
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