New Anti-Immigrant GOP Judiciary Committee Readies Itself for Loretta Lynch Hearing

From America’s Voice

Will Senate GOP Really Turn Critical Hearing on Attorney General Nominee into Anti-Immigrant Brawl?

Washington DC – In Congress and on the campaign trailRepublicans have been busy in the new year burnishing their anti-immigrant brand image.  In Washington, most of the anti-immigration action has taken place in the House of Representatives, where the GOP passed legislation straight from the top of the restrictionists’ wish list, including proposals that block the sensible and legal immigration actions announced by the President last November, end the DACA program for DREAMers, and maximize the deportation of all undocumented immigrants in America.

On the other side of the Capitol, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are preparing to turn the Attorney General confirmation hearings into yet another anti-immigration slugfest.  Rather than focusing on Loretta Lynch’s qualifications to serve as the next Attorney General for the United States, they are planning to spend much of their time criticizing President Obama’s actions on immigration.

Of course this should surprise no one, since the Republican side of the Senate Judiciary Committee is now stacked with hardliners who have promised to make immigration a dominant focus of the proceedings.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “It’s safe to say that Republicans in Congress are obsessed with immigration.  With all of the issues facing the nation today—terrorism, cybercrime, individual liberties, the role of law enforcement in communities, and so much more—Republicans’ decision to turn the Attorney General confirmation hearings into another anti-immigration press conference is just as irresponsible as it is reprehensible.”

It is difficult to predict which Republican Senator will express his anti-immigration obsession the most colorfully, and earn the most headlines.  There certainly are a lot of contenders on the Committee, such as:

“It seems that Republicans in Congress don’t feel they have sufficiently alienated voters who care about immigration reform.  They have to turn every occasion—no matter how important—into an opportunity to attack President Obama on immigration.  It’s a level of obsession that cries out for an intervention,” said Tramonte.

America’s Voice will be commenting on the hearings via Twitter; follow @AmericasVoice to stay informed.

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STATES’ LAWSUIT AGAINST EXECUTIVE ACTION HAD FIRST HEARING YESTERDAY; WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Originally posted by America’s Voice

Yesterday, the case filed by 25 states suing President Obama over executive action received its first hearing with federal judge Andrew Hanen.  The defendant (the federal government) has requested until the end of January to file another brief, which means that Hanen’s ruling won’t come until at least February.  There are several things that might happen in his ruling:

  • Standing — this is the first thing that the plaintiff states must establish.  If they can’t demonstrate that they suffer a particular harm due to executive action (and they are claiming all sorts of harms), then they don’t have standing, and the case will be thrown out.
  • Injunction – the states have asked that the judge hand down preliminary injunction while the case is pending.  This would block executive action while the case winds through the legal system.  If the judge has ruled that the states have standing, Hanen can either 1) deny the motion for an injunction, thereby allowing executive action to begin being implemented, 2) grant an injunction, or 3) grant an injunction only in the 25 states that have sued.
  • Stay — if Hanen hands down an injunction, a higher court can issue a stay.  That would freeze Judge Hanen’s decision granting the injunction and once more allow executive action to proceed while the case winds through the courts.

Below, with an informal quick-take and more details is David Leopold, an immigration attorney, legal consultant to America’s Voice and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association:

Does Hanen first need to rule on standing, or can he rule on standing and the injunction at the same time?

Think of standing as the question of whether or not the plaintiffs have shown they have suffered a harm that he can rule on. In other words, I could not sue because someone broke a contract with you. You would have to sue. I would have no standing.

So the judge first needs to agree there is standing, e.g. that the plaintiffs have articulated some harm to them over which he has the authority to rule. If, like the judge in the Arpaio case, he concludes there is no standing, he could dismiss on that basis alone. If he concludes there is standing he then (in the same opinion) will likely rule on the injunction. He could conceivably agree there is standing, but deny the injunction, so the two are not necessarily mutually dependent. Bottom line, the 25 states must show they have standing to sue. If no there is standing, there will be no injunction and the case fails. That would be the best result. According to many observers however, it’s more likely, given the judge’s background, that he’ll agree there is standing and will grant the injunction.

If Hanen issues an injunction would it affect DACA and Morton memos as well as executive action, or just executive action (i.e. DACA expansion, DAPA, new priorities enforcement memos, etc)? 

First, this is a hypothetical question. Let’s remember, the immigration executive actions are solidly legal; they are based constitutional and statutory authority and are consistent with deportation reprieves implemented by presidents of both parties dating back to Eisenhower.

That said, this is a much more difficult question because it involves complicated jurisdictional questions. And I don’t believe scholars are of one view about the answer. The rules governing declaratory judgments give the court authority to declare the rights of parties. Whether or not a ruling declaring the president’s executive actions unlawful would immediately apply across the country is a matter of debate. What’s clear is that an adverse ruling declaring the immigration executive actions unconstitutional, if allowed to stand (which I believe is unlikely at best), would affect DAPA and DACA expansion nationally. It would not impact the Morton memos because those are agency policy directives which are not targeted by the suit, and their legality has not been challenged. Nor would it likely affect most of the immigration executive actions related to business immigration issues. I think an adverse ruling would also effect DACA because the complaint asks for a ruling on the “deferred action program.”

Would an adverse final decision (from SCOTUS) affect DACA and the Morton memos as well as executive action, or just executive action (i.e. DACA expansion, DAPA, new priorities enforcement memos, etc)? In the 25 states or nationwide? 

Again, hypothetically, an adverse SCOTUS ruling would likely affect the well-settled tradition of prosecutorial discretion in general—and throw the entire immigration enforcement system into disarray because it could impact all exercises of deferred action, and, therefore all enforcement decisions. In other words, it wouldn’t be clear how much authority the president has to grant exercised prosecutorial discretion in immigration matters, including deferred action. It would be a royal mess.

But this is outcome his highly unlikely. As recently as its decision in Arizona vs U.S. SCOTUS reaffirmed that “a principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials.” Moreover, as stated, for decades presidents of both parties have granted deportation reprieves to large classes of undocumented immigrants. According to the Immigration Policy Center perhaps the most striking historical parallel to today’s immigration challenges is the “Family Fairness” policy which led President George H.W. Bush to offer a blanket deferral to as many as 1.5 million spouses and children of immigrants who were legalizing, provided they met certain criteria.

If Hanen issues an injunction and it’s stayed, will DHS be able to continue implementation of the program nationwide?

This is exactly what I predict will happen. And DHS will be able to continue implementation of DAPA and DACA nationwide. At some point some court is going to have to correctly apply the law. My hope is that it will be Judge Hanen who has sworn to uphold the law. But if not, my guess is that it will be the 5th circuit court of appeals—not because they like DAPA or DACA or Obama—but because as a federal appellate court they must ensure the integrity of the judicial system. The 25 states clearly lack standing to bring this suit and that’s exactly what I think the ultimate ruling will turn on.

How much time could pass between the issuing of a preliminary injunction and having it stayed by another court? 

Going out on a limb here, but I believe it will be very short—a matter of hours, if that much. My guess is that in the event of an adverse ruling the government will immediately ask the judge to stay his own order granting the injunction pending appeal. He may or may not do that. If he doesn’t, the government will probably immediately appeal to the 5th circuit and request an emergency hearing. And if that doesn’t work, the government will likely ask SCOTUS to intervene.

Mike DeWine’s decision to join Texas #immigration lawsuit hurts #Ohio

Originally posted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Cleveland.com2014-12-19 DeWine

By David Leopold

Forty-one million dollars.

That’s a serious piece of change. And it’s the amount of tax revenue Ohioans stand to lose over the next five years if Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has his way.

DeWine has slapped the name of the Great State of Ohio on a Texas lawsuit seeking to stop President Barack Obama’s immigration-related executive actions that will bring 5 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. The process, known as deferred action, will require unauthorized immigrants nationwide to register, undergo criminal background checks and pay taxes. Ohio stands to gain $41 million dollars in tax revenue to be paid by an estimated 82,000 undocumented Ohioans who’ll qualify for the program.

That’s real money; money that could relieve Ohio financial strains and be used to hire teachers, firefighters and police officers.

Why would DeWine, who has always had a pragmatic, fair-minded approach to immigration, sign onto a lawsuit that’s not only frivolous, but reads more like a factually challenged press release than a well-reasoned legal complaint?

DeWine says his “decision to join the lawsuit in Texas has nothing to do with immigration policy.” Rather, so he claims, “It has everything to do with preserving our Constitution’s separation of powers and combatting the current administration’s consistent efforts to expand presidential authority into the traditional powers of Congress to make and change federal laws.”

That some very serious-sounding stuff. The good news is none of it’s true.

In fact the president is following the letter of the law — and doing exactly what Congress has required of the administration.

Let me explain.

The Constitution requires the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Congress, which passes those laws has directed Obama to prioritize which undocumented immigrants should be deported. But Congress has only given the president enough resources to remove a fraction of the estimated 11 million living in the shadows, about 400,000 people per year. And since he’s been president Obama has done exactly that — he’s deported nearly half a million people a year — earning him harsh rebuke from his supporters, some of who dubbed him “The Deporter-in-Chief.”

What DeWine (and the Texas lawsuit) conveniently fail to mention is that Obama’s immigration actions do not stop deportations or even slow them down. The Department of Homeland Security will continue to deport nearly a half million undocumented immigrants every year whether or not Obama offers a temporary reprieve to DREAMERs and parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Moreover — as DeWine undoubtedly knows — Obama’s immigration actions are nothing new. Presidents of both parties have used deferred action to postpone the deportation of large groups of undocumented immigrants, including abused women, hurricane victims and refugees.

So the question is not whether Obama’s immigration actions are legal (they are); it’s who of the 11 million should he go after first? Does it make sense to use limited immigration enforcement resources to focus on deporting dangerous felons, national security risks and recent border crossers? Or should the president concentrate on removing DREAMERS and mothers and fathers of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

The answer seems obvious to anyone concerned with the safety of Ohio communities.

Unfortunately it appears to be less obvious to DeWine. He ought to explain to Ohioans whom he’d rather see deported: a drug dealer in Cleveland, a gang member in Columbus or an undocumented mother working in the nurseries of Painesville or changing linens at a hotel in Toledo?

Does DeWine really think he’s doing Ohio taxpayers a service by signing onto a lawsuit that purports to protect the Constitution yet, in effect, aims to obstruct a lawful process which will hold 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable to their communities by requiring them to register, undergo criminal background checks, and pay taxes?

Sound bites, slogans, and frivolous lawsuits aside, the reality is that the immigration action undertaken by the president is not only legal, it’s damn good public policy. It will keep our borders protected by focusing more enforcement resources on border security, it will make our communities safer by getting rid of dangerous criminals and security threats, and it will keep American families together.

As a former prosecutor and U.S. senator, DeWine must know in his heart that Obama’s immigration actions are unassailably legal. Sadly, he has chosen to put Republican Party politics before the citizens of Ohio.

Fortunately he does not have the last word — Ohioans do. And they should demand that Attorney General Mike DeWine put partisan politics aside, do what’s best for the people of Ohio and remove the name of our great state from the meritless lawsuit in Texas.

What the #Immigration Executive Actions Mean for You and Your Family: 8 Things You Need to Know

Originally posted on Huffington Post

Last week President Obama announced he will take series of executive actions designed to strengthen the border, hold undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents accountable by giving them a chance to register, pass criminal background checks and pay taxes. The Administration also plans to use the existing immigration law to promote investment and make the immigration system work better until Congress finally passes immigration reform.

1. There’s Nothing to Apply for Yet And Immigrants Should Be Careful Not to Get Scammed.

While the President has a released a broad outline of his immigration executive actions, the details, including the application process, have not been finalized. In other words, there is nothing to apply for yet and potential applicants should heed the warning posted on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s website:

Important notice: These initiatives have not yet been implemented, and USCIS is not accepting any requests or applications at this time. Beware of anyone who offers to help you submit an application or a request for any of these actions before they are available. You could become a victim of an immigration scam.

2. The Deferred Action Program Will Apply Only to The Undocumented Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents.

Perhaps the most dramatic of the executive actions is the President’s decision to offer a temporary deportation reprieve — formally known as Deferred Action — to undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children.

The intent is to give parents a chance to come out of the shadows and get right with the law — register, pass criminal background checks and pay taxes.

To qualify an applicant will have to show, among other things, that he/she has been in the U.S. since before January 1, 2010, and is the parent of a citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014. The Administration hopes to have the application process in place within 180 days.

3. DACA Will Be Expanded To Make More DREAMERs Eligible.

Two years ago Mr. Obama offered a temporary deportation reprieve to qualified undocumented youth who had arrived in the U.S. as children. The process, known asDeferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, brought hundreds of thousands of DREAMERs out of the shadows so they could work and study. To be eligible a DREAMER had to show, among other things, that he/she had arrived before June 15, 2007 and been in the U.S. and under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012. While the process was a game changer for many DREAMERs, others did not qualify because of the entry deadline and age cap.

The executive actions will extend the entry requirement to June 1, 2010 and remove the age cap, permitting many more DREAMERs qualify for a temporary 3 year reprieve from deportation.

While the expanded DACA program is not yet in place, it is expected that the USCIS will begin receiving applications within 90 days.

4. Provisional Family Unity Waivers Will Be Expanded to Included the Undocumented Husbands and Wives Of Lawful Permanent Residents.

Most people think that if an undocumented immigrant marries a U.S. citizen or lawful resident he/she can get a green card. That’s both right and wrong. Many undocumented immigrants who qualify for a visa must apply at a U.S. consulate abroad, not from within the US. But when they leave the U.S. to apply, another part of the law bans them from returning for up to ten years.

The pain of this legal Catch-22 was eased somewhat in 2013 when the Obama Administration tweaked the application process so that undocumented husbands and wives of U.S. citizens could apply for family unity waivers before traveling abroad. The change spared many American families from prolonged separation from their loved one she traveled abroad and waited — sometimes for years — for the waiver to be processed.

The executive actions announced last week tweak the Family Unity Waiver process a bit more by a permitting undocumented spouses of lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to apply for waivers before departing the U.S, shielding many more American families from the pain of prolonged separation. The change will also save tax dollars by making the visa processing system more efficient and reducing the burden on government agencies.

5. Family Unity Will (Hopefully) Become the Rule Rather Than the Exception.

Some immigrants that are eligible for green cards first have to prove that their deportation would impose “extreme hardship” on their U.S. citizen or lawful resident spouse, parent or child.

The executive actions promise a new interpretation of “extreme hardship” which, hopefully, will recognize that separating parents from (American) children or spouses from (American) spouses is, by nature, an “extreme hardship.” A pro-family interpretation of the standard would ensure that, absent negative factors, more families remain whole.

Stay tuned on this one.

6. Immigrants With Green Card Applications or Other Temporary Status May Travel Abroad With Greater Assurance of Their Ability to Return.

The legal Catch-22 that keeps husbands and wives separated from their families for up to 10 years after foreign travel can also bar immigrants with lawful green card applications or other temporary status — even if they traveled home to visit an elderly parent or attend a funeral with advance permission (parole) from the Department of Homeland Security.

The President’s executive actions will give greater assurances to immigrants that they will be permitted to return to the U.S. and complete their pending green card applications or continue their authorized presence after necessary foreign travel on advance parole.

7. Existing Law Will Be Used to Expand Opportunities for Business, Investment and Job Creation.

The executive actions will include efforts to strengthen the economy and create jobs for U.S. workers by enhancing options for foreign entrepreneurs, attracting investment and generating tax revenue to ensure economic growth and extending existing post-graduate training programs for science, technology, engineering and math graduates of U.S universities. The Administration will also look for ways to improve the legal immigration system by reducing government costs, reducing burdens on employers and families and eliminating fraud.

8. The President’s Immigration Executive Actions Are An Important First Step, But They Are Not A Substitute Congressional Action.

The actions Mr. Obama has taken to make the immigration system work better are a bold and courageous (and yes-solidly legal) use of his lawful authority as President of the United States. But only Congress has the power to fix the antiquated, rigid and outdated immigration policy that plagues this country, devastates families, stymies American business and inhibits job creation.

We can only hope that amid the calls for lawsuits and legislation to block the President’s executive actions Republican congressional leaders will find the guts to do the right thing by the American People.

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