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Immigration Reform News Today: Fifth Circuit Court DACA, DAPA Hearing Reveals 'Complexity' of Immigration

First Posted: Jul 13, 2015 03:10 PM EDT
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Coinciding with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' hearing on President Barack Obama's deferred action programs' legality, a survey of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients found how they have benefited from the program.

The study, conducted by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Center for American Progress (CAP) and University of California-San Diego's Tom Wong, found that DACA increased average hourly wages for recipients by 45 percent. Most DACA recipients, at 96 percent, stated they are employed or in school.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, during a press call on Friday, acknowledged the U.S. has a broken immigration system and 750,000 people within his state are eligible for DACA and the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program. The implementation of DAPA and the extended DACA guidelines, however, have not been implemented due to a lawsuit by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, which has accrued support from 25 other states.

In New Orleans, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' heard arguments from Texas and proponents of Obama's deferred action program. Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), attended Friday's hearing and explained how Texas is at risk of gaining benefits if undocumented immigrants are given the opportunity to apply for deferred action.

"[The arguments] showed the complexity of immigration law, and the questioning both by the judges and the arguments by the lawyer representing Texas and 25 other states really showed a tremendous lack of understanding of deferred action as well as prosecutorial discretion and again of the benefits that would ensue from these programs," said Hincapié during a press call.

According to Hincapié, the attorney for Texas said that the state was content with allowing undocumented immigrants roam the Lone Star State as long as they do not obtain work authorization and social security numbers.

"That is completely nonsensical," said Hincapié. "It is not good for our country, not good for our economy [and] our national security, and most importantly it's not good for the [4 million] to 5 million immigrants who would directly benefit from this and their 5 million U.S. citizen children."

Castro noted the U.S. can accrue $230 billion increase in GDP in the next 10 years if the DAPA and expanded DACA guidelines are implemented. In addition, the DACA and DAPA programs are projected to create 28,000, annually, and the nation's income by $124 billion by 2025.

In Abbott and Castro's state of Texas during the same 10-year period, a $38.3 billion increase in state GDP has been estimated with 4,800 jobs created annually.

"[DACA] has opened up avenues for people really to live up to their potential. There were so many of these DACA recipients who are essentially in limbo, locked out of the American economy and now they're contributing to it," said Castro.

The extended DACA and new DAPA programs would provide 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.

A decision date by the Fifth Circuit Court on the legality of Obama's 2014 deferred action programs is unknown.

Abbott's lawsuit has received support from 25 states, namely those with Republican governors 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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