DAPA Eligible Immigrants Will Not Be Deported and 3 Other Things You Need to Know About the GOP #Immigration Lawsuit

Originally posted on Huffington Post

By David Leopold

Since Judge Hanen issued his controversial midnight order blocking President Obama’s executive actions on immigration there has been a lot of speculation about what will happen next. Will the Court of Appeals quickly reverse the ruling? How long will it take for the case to wind its way through the appellate courts? Will the U.S. Supreme Court have to weigh in?

I’ve been answering questions like these on DAPAQuestions.org and will continue doing so, but there are three key questions that many people are asking today.

What does the Republican Lawsuit against expanding DACA and the new DAPA program mean for the 5 million immigrants that would qualify for these programs?

The Republican lawsuit against DACA expansion and DAPA was undoubtedly a bump in the road, but it is not the final word. The law is clear and DAPA/DACA expansion policies are legal, despite what Judge Hanen thinks. Until the Texas case is resolved on appeal, DREAMers and parents who were preparing to apply should continue to do so.

Importantly, applicants for the DACA program created in 2012 can and should continue to apply. The lawsuit does not affect them.

Applicants for DACA expansion (the changes announced in 2014) should continue to collect documents and other proof showing of arrival in the U.S. before the age of 16 and that they were in the U.S. on January 1, 2010.

DAPA applicants should collect all necessary proof that they’ve lived in the U.S. since before January 1, 2010 and, on November 20, 2014–the day President Obama announced his immigration executive actions–were the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

And, of course, applicants should be prepared to pay the expected $465 application filing fee which includes the cost of criminal background checks.

Does the Republican lawsuit block all of President Obama’s immigration actions?

No! While the future of DAPA and DACA expansion could be tied up in the courts for the next few weeks or (maybe even months), Republicans cannot touch Obama’s immigration actions that are already being implemented.

Judge Hanen’s order does NOT affect the original, existing DACA program. Individuals who qualify for deferred action based on the criteria outlined in 2012 can and should continue to apply.

Judge Hanen’s order also has NO effect on the immigration enforcement priorities that President Obama laid out as part of his executive actions. These new priorities, which are detailed in a memorandum from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, direct immigration agents to focus on the deportation of aliens who are national security threats, felons, criminal gang members, visa abusers and serious immigration violators.

This means that DREAMers and parents of U.S. citizens who meet the criteria for DACA expansion and DAPA generally should not be deported–even if they come into contact with ICE or CBP. They are only at risk if their deportation would service an “important federal interest” such as individuals who pose a threat to community safety.

Nobody has (or can) seriously question whether or not President Obama’s immigration enforcement priorities are legal. And they go beyond the confines of DACA and DAPA to prevent unjust deportation of other undocumented immigrants with roots and ties to the United States.

But how can we trust that these priorities are being implemented?

This is an important question given past experience with various iterations of “enforcement priorities” memos.

The good news is that so far ICE field offices seem to be following the new enforcement priorities. In Ohio, for example, ICE agents took it upon themselves to postpone the imminent removal of an undocumented mother of a U.S. citizen child after the policies were announced. While the woman still needs DAPA to get stability, at least her low priority removal status allows immigration enforcement agents to focus on dangerous criminals and national security risks. Vox’s Dara Lindreportedlast week that 1000 people have been released from immigration custody since DHS released its enforcement priorities in November.

Nevertheless, immigration advocates must remain vigilant. If a DREAMer, undocumented parent or long-term resident is apprehended, detained or facing removal, ICE officials should be notified immediately that the person is not an enforcement priority and should not be detained or removed. Ideally this should be done through a licensed attorney who is experienced with the deferred action process. If local officials appear to not be following priorities, attorneys should sound alarm bells to higher immigration agency authorities and immigration advocacy groups like America’s Voice Education Fund who can work to ensure that ICE agents closely follow the President’s smart enforcement priorities.

5 things to know about the fight over Obama’s #immigration actions

Originally posted on MSNBC.com

By David Leopold

Late Monday night, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen temporarily blocked President Obama’s executive actions on deportations, which were challenged in federal court by Texas and 25 other states.

The immigration actions, which were set to begin going into effect today, expand DACA to undocumented immigrants over the age of 30 who arrived in the U.S. as children and create DAPA, a discretionary temporary deportation reprieve for undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful residents. For now, both initiatives are on hold while the administration files its appeal with the court of appeals.

Here’s what else you need to know.

What is the Texas lawsuit about?

At bottom, the states claim that President Obama unconstitutionally bypassed Congress last year by offering deportation reprieves through executive action. The administration – with the support of 12 states, the District of Columbia, 33 cities, 27 police chiefs, highly respected legal scholars and nonprofit organizations – counters that DACA expansion and DAPA are solidly legal and that presidents of both parties have used their executive authority to grant similar deportation reprieves.

Why did the judge block the executive actions?

Judge Hanen focused on Texas’ claim that it would suffer financial loss by having to issue driver’s licenses to DACA and DAPA recipients. As he has done in previous cases, the judge used his 123 page order as a bully pulpit to excoriate the administration’s immigration enforcement policies. (The DACA program, which went into effect in 2012, was not affected by the judge’s order.)

Yet despite halting the immigration initiatives, Hanen did not rule that Obama in anyway exceeded his lawful authority or violated the constitution. Instead he ruled on very narrow, highly technical legal grounds: That the executive actions did not comply with the rule making requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act. The administration argues that the deportation reprieves are solidly legal and well within the president’s authority to focus limited immigration enforcement resources on the deportation of terrorists, felons and gang members – not DREAMers, and mothers and fathers of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

What happens now?

Judge Hanen’s order is of course an unwelcome setback for supporters of the president’s executive actions, but it’s hardly a fatal blow to DACA expansion or DAPA. The final decision – which most legal experts are confident will uphold the president’s immigration actions – will come from a much higher court; probably the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s how it will work: The Obama administration will appeal Judge Hanen’s decision to the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court. The higher court will likely take several weeks or months to decide the case. In the meantime, both the DACA expansion and DAPA will remain on hold. The government will not accept applications for either program, but potential applicants would be well advised to continue to collect documents so they are ready to apply when the injunction is eventually lifted.

If the Fifth Circuit reverses Judge Hanen’s order – as many experts expect it will do – the DACA expansion and DAPA processes will go forward as planned. If not, the president’s executive actions could be delayed for many more months while the administration asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

Importantly, Judge Hanen’s order is hardly the final word. It’s just the first act in what could be a very drawn out play that may conclude in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the meantime, what happens to the DREAMers and parents who qualify for DACA plus and DAPA?

The law requires Obama to set immigration enforcement priorities – to decide, in effect, which undocumented immigrants should be deported first. Last November, when he announced his immigration executive actions, the president said he’ll prioritize the deportation of “felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a Mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.”

What that means for immigrants who would qualify for the DACA expansion and DAPA is that, as long as they are not a deportation priority, their cases will remain at the bottom of the enforcement barrel while the Department of Homeland Security focuses on getting rid of those who threaten the safety of American communities.

How does the judge’s decision affect the larger battle over comprehensive immigration reform?

At the time Judge Hanen ruled on Monday, congressional Republicans were trying to figure out how to break a stalemate that threatens to shut down the Department of Homeland Security over GOP opposition to the president’s executive actions on immigration.

Hanen’s injunction clearly complicates things for the GOP. Conservative Republicans may harden their position against compromise with Democrats and the administration on homeland security funding. On the other hand, Hanen’s order temporarily halting the implementation of DACA expansion and DAPA arguably takes the issue off the table – at least for now – undercutting those in Congress intent on using homeland security funding to kill the president’s immigration initiatives.

Yet despite the GOP’s apparent obsession with creating an immigration system characterized by chaos and mass deportation, one thing is crystal clear – the DREAMERs and undocumented parents the Republicans long to deport are not going anywhere. They are already home.

Stay tuned.

Obama cannot afford to break another promise on #immigration

Posted on The Hill Congress Blog

Is President Obama about to delay his executive authority to make the immigration system work better until Congress acts?

It’s an important question, especially in light of what he said on Labor Day.

“Hope” Obama declared “is what gives young people the strength to march for women’s rights and workers’ rights and civil rights and voting rights and gay rights and immigration rights.”

Obama’s inclusion of “immigration rights” together with the epic struggles of American democracy – civil rights, women’s rights, voting rights, gay rights and workers’ rights – suggests he sees the struggle for immigration reform as an historic movement not tied to party or politics but inherent to the American democratic experience.
Notice the president used the term “immigration rights” not “immigrants’ rights”?

“Immigration rights” carries with it political, social and cultural significance while “immigrants’ rights” is a more direct reference to redress of rights through the courts. “Immigration rights” on the other hand suggests something inherent; rights that may not yet be on the books, but are nevertheless embedded in our Constitution as are the rights of minorities, women, and LGBTs.

If the president truly views “immigration rights” with the same reverence he does the rights of minorities, women, and LGBTs then how can he morally, ethically or politically justify not using his constitutional authority to fix the system where he can? Did President Kennedy, postpone confronting Gov. George Wallace at the University of Alabama when he tried to block the admission of African American students in 1962 before the enactment of the Civil Rights Act?

It’s also a question of integrity. The president stood in the Rose Garden on June 30, lambasted the House GOP for refusing to take up immigration reform, and promised that he would “act without delay” once he received recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security.

It’s a promise Obama cannot afford to break.

Those words resonated loudly among Latino voters, nearly a quarter of whom have a relative or friend who’s been detained or deported by the Obama administration. Latinos remember that in 2008 candidate Obama promised he would champion immigration reform during his first term in office, but then he broke his promise and deported two million people. They remember that June 2012 when he needed support for his reelection, Obama apologized to the Latino community, granted a deportation reprieve to young undocumented immigrants, and again promised he would fix the immigration system if he was reelected. And Latinos remember that the president was reelected with over 70 percent of their vote.

It’s true that the president is under pressure from some in his own party to wait until after the midterm election to act on immigration. They believe it’s the “safe” thing to do. But voters actually prefer politicians who keep their word, exercise leadership, and take chances over those who play it safe. And the political considerations are far less salient than the moral imperative of doing what the President knows is right—using his executive authority to blunt the harshness of an outdated, rigid, anti-family immigration law.

The president has been called the “Deporter-in-Chief,” and after six years of relentless deportations, his legacy is surely on the line. If he wants to be remembered for an immigration record other than record deportations, he must keep his word to the American people and do what he can to make the immigration system work—without delay.

Leopold is an Ohio-based attorney and the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

@americasvoice: Game Plan from the GOP and Allies on Child Refugees: Grandstand; Distort; Do Nothing; Repeat

From America’s Voice

The Same Game Plan Used by the Republicans on Every Immigration Debate

 Washington, DC – When it comes to addressing the ongoing child refugee crisis at the border, Republicans and their allies have solidified a strategy of trying to score political points, driving memes that are fact-free, and then ending with a flourish of inaction.  See below for recent evidence of the GOP game plan in motion:

Perry Steps Up Effort to Protect Texas from “Invasion” of 12-Year Old Refugees Fleeing Violence: In a shameless attempt to revive his presidential prospects, Texas Governor Rick Perry scored another day of media coverage when he announced yesterday he’ll be sending 1,000 national guard troops to “secure the border.”  Because, after all, when young kids run to border patrol agents rather than from them, the appropriate response is to send troops, right?  We can’t wait for the photos of National Guardsmen processing paperwork and changing diapers.  Perry’s move is as transparent as his new glasses.

Senator Ted Cruz Attacks Relief for DREAMers as the Root Cause of Child Refugee Issue: Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) continues to be the lead voice claiming that the cause of the child refugee crisis President’s popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  Violence in three of the top five most violent countries in the world?  Nah.  It’s that Obama granted relief to young people who arrived in America before June 2007 that spurred an exodus from three specific countries in June 2014!  The political fallout from this anti-immigrant posturing was demonstrated on Capitol Hill yesterday, as DREAMers mobilized to hold a funeral for the Republican Party.  As Greisa Martinez, organizer for United We Dream, said, “The GOP will not stand for us. They will not fight for us. The GOP is dead to the immigrant community.”

Extremist, Anti-Immigrant Leaders Call for Obama’s Impeachment AND Public Lynching: Anti-immigrant groups just can’t help themselves when it comes to the ongoing child refugee crisis.  Senior Policy Analyst Stephen Steinlight of the nativist group Center for Immigration Studies – a group routinely called by House and Senate Republicans to testify as “experts” at immigration hearings – called for the President to not only be impeached, but also to be “hung, drawn, and quartered.”  Instead of being called as witnesses by Congressional Republicans, this guy should be called to account by the Secret Service.

What if Steve King Held Another Anti-Immigration Rally and Again No One Showed Up?  Nativist opponents of immigration reform were supposed to make their big stand this last weekend, spurred on by the Murrieta, California protest against Central American kids.  Mostly led by two internet groups, Make Them Listen and Overpasses for America, extremists had rallies planned in every state.  In an Iowa rally where Steve King was the headliner, attendance was so sparse it prompted comparisons to his infamous failure of a Richmond rally last August.  Other rallies around the nation were also a bust, highlighting — as Right Wing Watch put it — “the truth that the anti-immigrant movement is desperately trying to hide: it just doesn’t have that much support.”

On His So-Called “HUMANE” Bill, Cornyn Touts More Lies & Makes the Case for More and Faster Cursory Interviews with Terrified Children and Border Patrol Agents with Weapons:  In a new National Review op-ed, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) distorts his own bill, the so-called “HUMANE Act.” He writes, “A new bill would help fix the immediate crisis and assist thousands of children.  Now, some on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns about this legislation. On the right, they have said this bill would make it easier for illegal minors to achieve legal and asylum status. That is wrong. The HUMANE Act would not change current law with regard to either claim.  It would, however, make sure current law is actually enforced by speeding up court dates and the removal process for unaccompanied children.”  In fact, instead of current law, which provides children with the opportunity to secure legal counsel and prepare a case to be heard by an asylum officer or immigration judge, his bill would take scared kids who just survived a harrowing journey and subject them to cursory interviews by border patrol agents in green uniforms with a sidearm strapped to their waist.  A recent UNHCR review of the process used for Mexican unaccompanied minors, found that 95% of the kids interviewed by border patrol agents are denied relief and sent home when the UN estimated that 58% had protection claims.

Rep. Phil Gingrey asks CDC to Check Kids for Ebola Virus—Despite the Fact that Not One Case of the Disease Exists in the Americas:  As Ken Sepkowitz of the Daily Beast writes in a piece entitled, “D.C. Moron Phil Gingrey Spread Ebola Fever Over Immigrants”: “The red hot topics of immigration across the Mexican border and infectious disease epidemics converged this month when Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), a retired obstetrician-gynecologist, claimed that ‘illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus, and tuberculosis’ represent a threat to American health and well-being.  It is a new, if very old argument in the immigration wars, but Dr. Gingrey’s suggestion, in a letter to the director of the Centers for Disease Control, is unusually dim-witted.  Were I, an infectious disease guy, to write to a federal agency about an obstetrical matter, I at least would run my tractate past a colleague in the OB field.  Gingrey, apparently, was in too big a hurry to have a friendly local ID expert point out that swine flu is not in season (indeed, the brief dust-up of a few cases among immigrant children reported a week ago has gone nowhere fast); that dengue fever is not transmitted person to person; and that Ebola has not appeared in the Americas—North, South, or Central—and shows no signs of doing so. OK, so TB is always a threat, sort of, but we know how to screen for it and, from the evidence one can find, are doing so not only at the Mexico entry point but across all immigration points.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The GOP’s strategy is on full display.  Grandstand, distort and then do nothing.  It’s what the GOP did on immigration reform.  It’s what they are doing on the supplemental budget request before Congress.  And, as always, Speaker Boehner and his ‘leadership team’ finish with a blame game pirouette in which all is Obama’s fault.  So be it.  The GOP will play it’s game, focused on whipping up the 30% of the country that believes anything Fox News and talk radio say.  But if Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and other Presidential wannabes are curious about how this strategy might pan out, perhaps they should ask Mitt Romney.”

Honored to join Tuesday’s @americasvoice press call: Who is the Obama Administration Really Deporting?

From America’s Voice

For Immediate Release:                               Contact: Katy Green

April 7, 2014                                                               650-464-1545

**** PRESS CALL ****
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at noon EST

DIAL: 866-952-7532; Passcode: DEPORTATION

Advocates from Northern and Southern Borders Discuss Monday’s NYT Story on Deportations, Faces Behind DHS “Priorities”

 Washington, DC – On Tuesday, April 8, immigrant advocates from Ohio and New Mexico will speak on a conference call with reporters to highlight cases and definitions raised by Monday’s New York Times exposé on the Obama Administration’s deportation record. For years, the Administration has claimed that its immigration enforcement focused on “criminals” and “border crossers,” while the faces highlighted in this article show a dramatically different reality.

This seminal analysis from the New York Times, based on data obtained from the Department of Homeland Security, shows that nearly 80% of people deported by the Obama Administration are ordinary immigrants, not high-priority “criminals.”  The article paints a disturbing picture of how the Obama Administration achieved its record level of deportations by working hand in glove with local law enforcement, and reclassified ordinary immigrants as “criminals” and “border crossers” through aggressive prosecutions and overly expansive definitions.

Both the facts and stories make it clear that, despite the Administration’s policy of prosecutorial discretion introduced 2011, immigrants with deep roots in the U.S., who would qualify for citizenship under the Senate-passed immigration bill, are still being deported.

 WHAT:          Who is the Obama Administration Really Deporting?

WHEN:          Tuesday, April 4th at 12pm ET


Veronica Dahlberg, Executive Director, HOLA Ohio

David Leopold, Immigration Attorney, Cleveland, OH and Past President of American Immigration Lawyers Association

Monica García, Regional Coordinator, Border Network for Human Rights, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund

 DIAL-IN INFO: 866-952-7532; Passcode: DEPORTATION

 Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on twitter @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice. 

America’s Voice – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform 



READ: #Ohio #BMV Announcement Granting Driver’s License Eligiblity to #DACA Grantees. #immigration

Download the Ohio BMV Announcement here —> 03-29-13_DACAv2


COLUMBUS – Today the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) instructed the
state’s Deputy Registrars to begin issuing temporary driver licenses to qualified
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grantees, but only after first
confirming applicants’ immigration documents via the U.S. Citizen and Immigration
Services (USCIS) database. The extra security steps are designed to combat fraud
or the use of counterfeit documents. BMV’s decision was established after reviewing
guidance expressed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine that DACA grantees are
eligible for temporary driver licenses under Ohio law.
The BMV’s instructions to Deputy Registrars will ensure consistent procedures are
followed statewide when issuing the temporary licenses. Confirmation of applicants’
immigrant documents will be made via the federal government’s immigration
database to verify their authenticity. Upon verification of applicants’ documents they
will be issued a non-renewable/temporary license valid for the time period of their
work authorization issued by USCIS, not to exceed two years.
The federal government allows DACA grantees to work in the U.S. during the twoyear length of their DACA status. Individuals are eligible for DACA status if: they
arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16; have no criminal history; are currently in
school; have graduated from high school or received a general education
development (GED) certificate; have been honorably discharged from the Coast
Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and are under the age of 31.
Currently 37 other states also issue temporary drivers licenses to DACA grantees.
Ohio is one of the few states to take the extra step of also confirming applicants’
immigration documents through the federal government’s database.

To view a summary of the Deputy Registrar directive, click here

#Ohio BMV has to let #DREAMERs be drivers; #immigration #DACA

Originally published by the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Imagine for a moment how you would feel if you suddenly learned you were not an American citizen; that in fact you had no lawful status in the United States and faced deportation to a country you never even knew. Would you pack your bags and leave Northeast Ohio where you grew up, went to school, rooted for the Browns and Indians, and watched fireworks on the Fourth of July? Or would your identity as an American — the core of who you are culturally and personally — compel you to fight for a way to remain legally in your own country?

It sounds incredible, but for thousands of teenagers and young adults in Ohio, this nightmare is a terrible reality. Some learned about their undocumented status while still very young. Others found out when they applied for a Social Security number or to take a college entrance exam.

Referred to as DREAMERs — because they dream that one day Congress will pass a law that gives them a chance to earn citizenship — these young “undocumented Americans” are not merely abstract Washington, D.C., debating points. They are our neighbors, classmates and co-workers. Some, like Manuel Bartsch of Findlay and Bernard Pastor of Cincinnati, have landed on the front pages of Ohio newspapers when their undocumented status led to their arrest, detention, and near-deportation through no fault of their own. Countless other Ohio DREAMERs have been forced to hide their lack of immigration status, living in fear of arrest and deportation every time they leave their homes to go to school, work, or church. Many have had to put their lives on hold, unable to afford college, volunteer for the U.S. armed forces or build a career because of the lack of a simple document.

Last year President Barack Obama offered eligible DREAMERs a temporary reprieve from this limbo in the hopes that soon Congress would overhaul America’s broken immigration system completely. The administrative process, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, gives qualified DREAMERs an opportunity to temporarily step out of the shadows and live without facing deportation. The Department of Homeland Security, which administers DACA, has clearly and unequivocally affirmed that individuals who have been granted DACA are authorized to be in the United States, receive work permits and other documents, and live as normal of a life as possible.

But the bureaucrats who run the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles have different ideas. Inexplicably, they have taken it upon themselves to second-guess the federal government, questioning whether DREAMERs granted DACA are really eligible for driver’s licenses. The result is that many BMV offices across Ohio now refuse to allow DREAMERs to apply for driver’s licenses — even though U.S. immigration authorities clearly have authorized them to live and work in the United States under this program.

Maybe the BMV bureaucrats should read the DACA regulations — they’re available online at uscis.gov. They plainly state that “an individual who has received deferred action is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be present in the United States, and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect.”

They’re allowed to be here, they have Social Security numbers, they’re paying taxes — but the BMV says they can’t drive? Or maybe the BMV should take the advice of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine who, in a recent letter to the Ohio Commission on Latino Affairs, wrote that “it appears that the BMV would have to accept driver’s license applications from individuals that fall under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative because they can provide all of the information necessary,” including proof that they are authorized to be in the United States.

The eligibility of DACA grantees to apply for driver’s licenses couldn’t be any clearer. It’s astonishing that the BMV, which has no expertise or authority in U.S. immigration law, would take it upon itself to second-guess DHS and DeWine. Maybe the officials at the BMV need a call from their boss, Gov. John Kasich. Surely he’d agree that the citizens of Ohio would be much better served if the BMV bureaucrats focused on their actual jobs — allowing people who qualify for driver’s licenses to obtain them — rather than implementing their own immigration policy that goes against common sense and the rule of the law.

Leopold, a Cleveland-based immigration attorney, is the general counsel and former national president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

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