On Immigration, “A Mistake Has Been Made” And The Supreme Court Must Fix It

Yesterday’s 2/1 decision by the 5th Circuit was expected, given the make-up of the panel.  But the sharp and persuasive dissent authored by Judge Carolyn Dineen King should not be overlooked, as it points the way for the Supreme Court to step in and correct this egregious mistake.

Judge King cogently asserts that, simply put, the Republican assault on Obama’s executive actions does not belong in court:

The policy decisions at issue in this case are best resolved not by judicial fiat, but via the political process.  That this case essentially boils down to a policy dispute is underscored not only by the dozens of amicus briefs filed in this case by interested parties across the ideological spectrum—Mayors, Senators, Representatives, and law enforcement officials, among others—but also by the district court’s opinion, which repeatedly expresses frustration that the Secretary is “actively act[ing] to thwart” the immigration laws and “is not just rewriting the laws [but is] creating them from scratch.” The majority’s observation that this suit involves “policy disagreements masquerading as legal claims” is also telling.  Whether or not the district court’s characterization of this case is accurate—though the record number of removals in recent years demonstrates that it is not—to the extent some are unhappy with the vigor of DHS’s enforcement efforts, their remedies lie in the political process, not in litigation.

King’s biggest swipe is aimed at her colleagues, Judges Jerry E. Smith and Jennifer Walker Elrod, for their inexplicable slow-walking of the decision which threatened to delay Supreme Court review until June 2017, months after President Obama leaves office.

I have a firm and definite conviction that a mistake has been made.

King writes,

That mistake has been exacerbated by the extended delay that has occurred in deciding this “expedited” appeal.  There is no justification for that delay.

I dissent.

That’s some very tough language.  And it raises the obvious question—which many have been asking since the panel failed to decide the case within the 5th Circuit’s 60 day decision target: Did Judges Smith and Elrod intentionally delay their decision?

As King correctly observes, in March the 5th Circuit granted the Department of Justice’s request to fast-track the case.  On July 10, Smith, Elrod and King heard argument on the merits of the case.  Why then did it take four long months for the panel to decide; especially when there was little doubt about what Smith and Elrod were going to do?

Nearly everyone watching the case knew the two Republican appointees were all but certain to side with the GOP challenge to Obama’s deferred action program. That’s because in May they both refused to temporarily lift Hanen’s hold on the administration’s immigration actions, stating: “Because the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of the injunction, we deny the motion for stay and the request to narrow the scope of the injunction.”

King is right to highlight the court’s incomprehensible delay, which exemplified the legal maxim “Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied.”  This case does not just involve legal principles, it involves the lives of 5 million American children and their parents.

On the merits the ruling was hardly a surprise.  The 5th circuit appeals court is considered by many to be the most conservative federal appeals court in the country, and Judges Smith and Elrod are among the most conservative judges on the court. Most observers expected them to side with the Republican governors and attorneys general that filed the case in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville, Texas who earlier this year blocked President Obama’s immigration executive actions from being implemented.

At bottom, Smith’s and Elrod’s decision yesterday was a more detailed version of their order earlier this year refusing to lift the hold that Hanen had put on the executive actions.  In her dissenting opinion King methodically and convincingly dismantled their reasoning.  Her forceful analysis, which provides a clear roadmap for the Supreme Court to reverse the 5th Circuit decision, is perhaps best summarized by King herself:

Even if this case were justiciable, the preliminary injunction, issued by the district court, is a mistake. If the [President’s deferred action guidance] is implemented in the truly discretionary, case-by-case manner it contemplates, it is not subject to the APA’s notice-and-comment requirements, and the injunction cannot stand.  Although the very face of the Memorandum makes clear that it must be applied with such discretion, the district court concluded on its own—prior to DAPA’s implementation, based on improper burden-shifting, and without seeing the need even to hold an evidentiary hearing—that the Memorandum is a sham, a mere “pretext” for the Executive’s plan “not [to] enforce the immigration laws as to over four million illegal aliens.”…That conclusion is clearly erroneous.  The majority affirms and goes one step further today.  It holds, in the alternative, that the Memorandum is contrary to the INA and substantively violates the APA.  These conclusions are wrong.  The district court expressly declined to reach this issue without further development…and the limited briefing we have before us is unhelpful and unpersuasive.  For these reasons, as set out below, I dissent.

King also correctly makes a point of reminding her colleagues that deferred action to shield undocumented immigrants is nothing new. It dates back to the Eisenhower administration and has been used by every president since; the most notable example being the “Family Fairness” policy implemented by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr.  As King writes:

Much like pretrial diversion in the criminal context—which also developed over a period of decades without express statutory authorization—deferred action channels limited resources by allowing certain low-priority offenders to work openly and contribute taxes, thus reducing their burden on the system.  Notably, such prosecutorial discretion is heightened in the immigration context.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but in legal terms yesterday’s decision was actually good news for supporters of Obama’s immigration executive actions and for the millions of DREAMers, American children, and parents who have been patiently waiting for justice.  There is still time for the U.S. Supreme Court to take it up this term and make a decision by June.

Of course the Department of Justice must now do everything in its power to get the case before the U.S. Supreme Court immediately.  And once it gets there will be incumbent on the Supreme Court to clean up the integrity that 5th Circuit majority besmirched; to decide the merits of the GOP assault on Obama’s immigration actions without politicizing the case on a partisan basis; to base its decision on facts and precedent rather than conjecture, and do it without engaging in political delays.

[Update:  The Department of Justice has announced it will petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal of the 5th Circuit Appeals Court decision]

The shocking reality of Donald Trump’s plan to deport millions

Posted on MSNBC.com by David Leopold

DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. More than 20,000 tickets have been distributed for the event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

DALLAS, TX – SEPTEMBER 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. More than 20,000 tickets have been distributed for the event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty

It’s not clear what was the most shocking about Donald Trump’s rally Monday night in Dallas, Texas: his description of undocumented immigrants as part of a “dumping ground for the rest of the world,” or the reaction of the nearly all-white crowd who awarded his rhetoric with a standing ovation and chants of “USA, USA.”

One day – hopefully soon – when the presidential candidacy of Donald Trumpreaches its ignoble end, perhaps we’ll better understand how a real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star turned-politician could become the front-runner in the Republican primary. But for now, we must take Trump at his word: If elected president, he plans to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants – including their U.S. citizen children. What’s more, Trump claims he’ll do it all within 18 months to two years. It is, according to Trump, just a question of “good management.”

It is surprising, then, that as we head into the second Republican debate Wednesday night at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, that Trump’s brazen call for mass expulsion of all undocumented immigrants has largely escaped scrutiny in the media, either because he isn’t taken seriously or journalists are afraid of offending him and losing access. But now that the “summer of Trump” has turned into fall, it’s high time that someone call on Trump to explain what he means when he declares that undocumented immigrants “have to go.”

We’re left asking this question in 2015: How would Trump actually deport 11 million people in less than two years?

The leading GOP candidate is talking about ferreting out, arresting, and forcibly removing a population of men, women and children roughly the size of the state of Ohio. Setting aside the Constitution for the moment – something most of Trump’s immigration platform ignores – let’s imagine what a grand scale deportation would mean in real terms. It’s frightening, extreme – and decidedly un-American.

First there would be the rooting out of undocumented men, women and children throughout the entire United States. Department of Homeland Security enforcement agents would have to fan out all over the country looking for undocumented immigrants. Since many work in agriculture, we’d likely see agents combing through rural areas and small town America – places like Painesville and Findlay, Ohio.

We got a glimpse of what that would look like in 2008, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided the Agriprocessors kosher meat packing facility in Postville, Iowa. Hundreds of armed ICE agents swooped into the town – population 2,000 – with helicopters and prison buses to arrest nearly 400 undocumented immigrants, most of whom were Guatemalan laborers. ICE then locked up the immigrants at the National Cattle Congress – which had been turned into a makeshift immigration prison – in nearby Waterloo, where they awaited criminal trials and deportation.

But Postville was just one small town in Iowa. Trump’s mass deportation plan would recreate that disturbing scene in every American community in all 50 states – every county, town and city. As Malcom Harris recently observed, “Sending an amped-up ICE on a mass-deportation mission wouldn’t just be an assault on undocumented people and their families, it would be an attack on American cities, where more than 90 percent of them live.”

Trump’s deportation dragnet would likely start by wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of U.S. citizens. To find undocumented immigrants, immigration enforcement agents would have to whittle down who they question about their immigration status, and that would include interrogating U.S. citizens. Further, because so many undocumented immigrants are part of mixed immigration status families, Americans would be put in the untenable position of having to decide whether to stay in their country, separated from their loved ones facing deportation, or leave the U.S.

In Trump’s America, where the newly inaugurated president would seek to make good on his campaign promise to deport 11 million people within 2 years, what would happen to core American values including family, hard work, community and fairness?

Would our citizens be coerced into becoming immigration informants? Would Americans rat on their neighbors, friends or relatives out of a misguided feeling of patriotism or, perhaps worse, vengeance and retribution? Would undocumented women, children and elderly be exposed to abuse by those who would take advantage of Trump’s deportation machinery to extract control, money or other unspeakable forms of abuse under threat of being exposed to homeland security agents?

Would non-white American citizens and lawful residents be at greater risk of stop, arrest and investigation based on their manner of dress, accent or skin color? And what about unscrupulous employers? One of the strongest arguments in favor of comprehensive immigration reform is that a pathway to earned legal immigration status will reduce workplace exploitation, including sweatshop wages and sexual abuse. One can only imagine the horrible price a corrupt employer might extract from an undocumented immigrant who is desperate to avoid deportation and separation from her family.

Even if Trump were elected president, he would not be able to fulfill many of his draconian promises on immigration – including mass deportation of all undocumented immigrants. Trump’s ugly agenda assumes there is no Constitution, no separation of powers, and no checks and balances which would prevent him from carrying out mass expulsion of undocumented immigrants. Nevertheless, the media has a professional and ethical obligation to the American people to press Trump for specifics on how he would implement his stated immigration agenda, so that voters know exactly what they’d be signing up for if they accept Trump’s offer to “make America great again.”

Tomorrow night in Simi Valley would be a good time to start.

David Leopold practices immigration law in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

A Lawyer Debunks 2016 GOPers’ Most Extreme #Immigration Ideas

But rather than call out Trump for his xenophobic, nativist and racist demagoguery, the other GOP White House contenders have instead settled into a shameful pattern of trying to out-Trump Trump. Instead of developing serious immigration policy solutions—something the vast majority of Americans favor—Trump’s Republican presidential rivals have lurched to the extreme right offering absurd and irresponsible ideas in an effort to outmaneuver the GOP frontrunner.

The newest ridiculous proposal came over the weekend from Chris Christie speaking at a New Hampshire Town Hall event. Christie suggested tracking noncitizen visitors like courier packages. According to the New Jersey governor it’s all quite simple, “You go online and at any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is…Yet we let people come into this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them.” Christie didn’t elaborate with details, so it’s not clear whether he intends to put barcodes on tourists’ backs, chips in the necks of business visitors or GPS trackers on the foreheads green card holders. I guess we’ll have to wait for his written policy proposal.

Beyond being a really dumb idea, Christie’s FedEx immigrant tracking system shows that the former federal prosecutor is also profoundly ignorant of U.S. law and policy. The Department of Homeland Security already collects biometric data—including digital images and fingerprints—from nearly every noncitizen entering the U.S. at air and sea ports. The tracking is even more intensive for other visitors including students and exchange visitors. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, for example, tracks and monitors foreign students after they arrive and throughout their studies in the U.S. Those who fail to show up for school are routinely arrested and detained by ICE agents who are alerted by the tracking system. The bottom line is that while it remains a work in progress, our visitor tracking has already advanced significantly since 9/11. Christie’s plan goes beyond common sense and treats people like inanimate objects.

The other problem for Christie is that tracking a person’s every move probably violates the Constitution. Earlier this year, in Torrey Dale Grady vs. North Carolina, the Supreme Court made clear that if the government puts a GPS tracker on someone—whether they’re a citizen or not—it constitutes a search protected by the 4th Amendment.

But don’t tell that to Donald Trump, Chris Christie or the other GOP presidential candidates. They’ve already proposed to eviscerate the 14th Amendment, the cornerstone of American civil rights that ensures due process and equal protection to all persons. The Republican politicians might be tempted to propose shredding the entire Constitution which, it seems, gets in the way of some of their most repugnant ideas.

Not to be outdone by Christie’s FedEx immigrant tracking system, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker—who used to be a pro-immigrant conservative before he became an anti-immigrant nativist—has made the ludicrous claim that building a border wall between the U.S. and Canadais a “legitimate” idea. He also made the unsubstantiated assertion that “Islamic extremists” are flooding the U.S. Mexico border.

Putting aside for the moment that for most of the year much of the 5,525 mile U.S. Canadian border is a frozen mass of snow and ice, there is little evidence that hordes of Canadians (or anyone else) are illegally sneaking over the border. But even if there was, why stop at building the wall at the northern border? If it’s true that about 40 percent of the undocumented immigrant population arrived in the U.S. legally on visas but overstayed, as Chris Christie claimed in New Hampshire over the weekend, then many of the undocumented immigrants probably arrived on airplanes. So why not build walls around our airports too? It might put a crimp in the take-off and landing part of U.S. and international aviation, but it’s sure to keep out illegal immigrants—along with business people, investors, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists and anyone else who adds to the fabric of our nation.

It would be unfair to leave out Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who was on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday insisting that “immigrants come here legally, learn English, adopt our values, roll up our sleeves and get to work.” When asked what he meant by “adopt our values” Jindal pointed to the example of immigrants in Europe who do not integrate into the cultures of their adopted countries. Jindal—who is a U.S. citizen because of birthright citizenship but now opposes birthright citizenship—didn’t mention that unlike the U.S. many of those countries do not have birthright citizenship and, therefore, many immigrants to Europe are not able to fully integrate into the cultures of their adopted countries.

Jindal also failed to point that American law already requires that immigrants learn to speak, read and write English to become citizens. Aspiring Americans are also tested on their knowledge of U.S. history and government. Maybe politicians like Jindal should also be required to take the citizenship test before they can run for president. The first question is “What is the supreme law of the land? The answer is “the Constitution.” The test might prove to be a more efficient way to narrow the field of presidential contenders.

Nothing that’s been proposed by Trump or those who try and mimic him will do anything to build a safe, orderly and fair immigration system. Whether it’s building a wall, mass deportation, eviscerating birthright citizenship, attacking DREAMers or tracking people like packages, none of the anti-immigrant proposals put out by Trump or the other GOP candidates will solve the problem of 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S., working hard, paying taxes and raising children. Nor will anything Trump or his GOP rivals have proposed fix the broken visa system so that it meets the needs of American business, creates American jobs, and keeps America globally competitive.

At some point Trump may have to answer for his hateful rhetoric and preposterous immigration policy proposals. But unless someone in the GOP finds the guts to forcefully stand up to his demagoguery rather than follow his lead, the Republican Party risks being branded the Party of Trump for years to come.

David Leopold practices immigration law in Cleveland. He is past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Anti-immigrant debate shows GOP still hasn’t learned from 2012 defeat

Republican presidential candidates from left, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Republican presidential candidates from left, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Posted on MSNBC.com by David Leopold

On November 7, 2012, the idea of Republicans embracing comprehensive immigration reform was a no-brainer. That was the day after Mitt Romney got hammered by Hispanic voters who rejected his candidacy for president by a 44 point margin.

GOP leaders stunned by the major electoral smackdown couldn’t get to fixing the immigration system fast enough. “While I believe it’s important for us to secure our borders and to enforce our laws,” Speaker John Boehner said the next day, “I think a comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

Fast forward to last night in Cleveland.

“We need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly,” Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump declared to resounding applause. Sadly, and dangerously for the GOP, that’s what has become of the party’s official platform on immigration.

There were 10 Republican hopefuls on stage last night. Not one took issue with Trump’s ludicrous contention that the immigration problems in the United States can be solved by building a wall. Not one pointed out that illegal immigration has fallen to its lowest levels in 20 years and that the nation’s undocumented population has dropped by 1 million since 2007. And, sadly, not one offered a detailed, thoughtful policy proposal in response to Trump’s doubling down on his hateful message about Mexican immigrants.

To the contrary, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is by many considered a thoughtful, moderate presidential contender, pandered to Trump on immigration, declaring that he “is touching a nerve because people want the wall to be built. They want to see an end to illegal immigration. They want to see it, and we all do. But we all have different ways of getting there. And you’re going to hear from all of us tonight about what our ideas are.”

To be fair, some Republican candidates alluded to fixing the immigration system, but only after “securing the border” – which has become more nuanced politician-speak for “we’ll never do immigration reform because we can always claim the border is not secure enough.” Jeb Bush, who’s gone further than any of his GOP rivals in suggesting he’d support comprehensive immigration reform, reiterated his support for some sort of “earned legal status” for undocumented immigrants, but was disappointingly short on specifics.

Unfortunately, despite Kasich’s promise earlier in the evening, none of the GOP candidates outlined serious proposals to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.

Nor is the GOP’s failure on immigration confined to the presidential candidates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared yesterday that there would be no immigration reform this year, claiming that “the atmosphere for dealing with that issue in the wake of” President Obama’s executive actions on deportations “is not appropriate” – a position that makes little sense given that Obama’s executive immigration actions have been enjoined by a federal judge at the request of GOP governors and attorneys general.

The refusal to embrace or even talk about comprehensive immigration reform demonstrates a major disconnect with Republican constituents across the country. Despite the hard-line presidential campaign rhetoric, recent polling shows the GOP candidates are at odds with the majority of their voters. Recent polling has found 53% to 55% of Republican voters favor some sort of path to earned legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. That means that most Republicans are ultimately pragmatic; they want immigration policy solutions, not pandering to the extremists in the party.

The takeaway is clear: When it comes to immigration, the GOP candidates didn’t do the party’s eventual nominee any favors last night. It’s one thing to veer to the right during a Republican presidential primary to capture the base of the party. But the GOP presidential hopefuls – including real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump – would be wise to heed the words of Katie Packer Gage, Romney’s 2012 deputy campaign manager, who recently cautioned the GOP not to repeat her former boss’s mistake on immigration. Romney’s championing of the mean-spirited, inhumane and unworkable policy of “self-deportation” may have helped earn him the support of party extremists, but it drove him over the cliff in the general election.

David Leopold practices immigration law in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

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.

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.

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 

www.americasvoice.org

Mayors de Blasio and Garcetti Announce Mayoral Coalition to File Amicus Brief in Support of President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration Reform


From the City of New York, Mayor’s Office

January 23, 2015

 More than 30 mayors sign on in Texas vs. United States in defense of President Obama’s reform action

 WASHINGTON—Mayors Bill de Blasio of New York City and Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles announced today plans by more than 30 mayors to file an amicus brief in the Texas vs. United States lawsuit to support President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration reform. The brief opposes a lawsuit pending in Brownsville, TX brought by states seeking to block President Obama’s immigration reform efforts.

The two mayors led the effort to organize more than 30 cities, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in filing a brief arguing that the public interest across the country is served clearly and overwhelmingly by implementing immigration reform by executive action. The brief also argues that blocking executive action with preliminary injunction will stall desperately needed changes to the federal government’s immigration policies. The cities represented by the amici mayors together account for approximately 28.2 million people, including 7.5 million immigrants.

“Our mission is urgent. Delaying implementation of the President’s executive action will further hurt our families, negatively impact our economies, and create unnecessary insecurity in our communities,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Cities are where immigrants live, and cities are where the President’s executive action will be successfully executed. We are organized, and we will fight for the changes this nation needs and deserves, and fight those who oppose immigration reform, be it in the courtroom, in Congress, or in our communities. Our voices will be heard.”

“Our cities cannot afford delays to immigration reforms that will strengthen our economy and help families,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who established a Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “This isn’t a blue or red issue, but a human and economic one.”

This joint effort to offer the court the crucial perspective of American cities is an outcome of the December immigration summit hosted by Mayor Bill de Blasio at Gracie Mansion and the organizing efforts of the Cities United for Immigration Action (CUIA) coalition. By submitting this “friend of the court” brief, America’s mayors are making a strong statement in support of the President’s plan to grant administrative relief to over 4 million undocumented children and adults. The amicus brief will demonstrate to the Court that executive action will benefit cities by providing work authorization to millions, increasing local tax revenue, and stimulating local economies, facilitating the civic engagement of immigrants, keeping families together, and improving public safety by strengthening our neighborhoods and communities.

In December, 25 states led by Republican governors brought a lawsuit captioned Texas vs. United States in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, seeking to halt the implementation of the President’s executive action. In response, a group of 12 states in January joined by the District of Columbia filed an amicus brief challenging the lawsuit by arguing that, contrary to the plaintiffs’ claims, the President’s immigration reform will in fact “further the public interest” of states and their residents, both immigrants and citizens. A group of 27 law enforcement leaders and other groups have also filed amicus briefs in support of the President’s executive action on immigration reform.

This is the first submission to the court from the city perspective.

“San Francisco is proud to file an Amicus Brief joining cities large and small from across the country and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to support our President’s bold action on immigration and create the change to help our residents succeed,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “As the son of immigrant parents, this issue is very personal to me. Mayors must lead on this reform to provide all of our residents with hope, opportunities, and the services they deserve. We know our diversity drives our cities’ economies and makes us all stronger.”

“The President’s executive action on immigration is a step forward for America,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. “We need to support his efforts to address our broken immigration system.”

“Filing an Amicus Brief is our way of saying: Pittsburgh stands on the right side of history. The President’s action on immigration was an important first step towards progress—for the growth and prosperity of our nation. We must not go backwards,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.

“The City of Dayton is proud to be a leader in welcoming people from diverse backgrounds to its community,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. “This order will strengthen our commitment to inclusion by allowing all residents to fully participate and help grow the economic vitality of the region. It is essential that all citizens feel safe and engaged in the place they call home.”

“This proposal is fair, economically beneficial for everyone, and the right thing to do,” said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

“Right now, our immigration system invites the best and brightest from all over the world to come and study at our top universities, including Washington University and St. Louis University, and then once they’ve gotten the training they need to build a new invention or create a new business, our system too often tells them to go back home so that other countries can reap the benefits, the new jobs, the new businesses, the new industries,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “It’s evidence of the broken system we have today and why we must fight to fix it.”

The following Mayors have signed on to the amicus brief:

Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York, New York

Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles, California

Mayor Kasim Reed, Atlanta, Georgia

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore, Maryland

Mayor Byron Browm, Buffalo, New York

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago, Illinois

Mayor Steve Benjamin, Columbia, South Carolina

Mayor Nan Whaley, Dayton, Ohio

Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver, Colorado

Mayor Muriel Bowser, Washington, D.C.

Mayor Pedro Segarra, Hartford, Connecticut

Mayor Annise Parker, Houston, Texas

Mayor Steven Fulop, Jersey City, New Jersey

Mayor Paul Soglin, Madison, Wisconsin

Mayor Ras Baraka, Newark, New Jersey

Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mayor Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Mayor Charles Hales, Portland, Oregon

Mayor John Dickert, Racine, Wisconsin

Mayor Tom Butt, Richmond, California

Mayor Lovely Warren, Rochester, New York

Mayor Ralph Becker, Salt Lake City, Utah

Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco, California

Mayor Gary McCarthy, Schenectady, New York

Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle, Washington

Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis, Missouri

Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Tacoma, Washington

Mayor Mike Spano, Yonkers, New York

The following mayors have expressed their support and will sign on to the brief, pending final local approvals:

Mayor Karen Majewski, Hamtramck, Michigan

Mayor Virg Bernero, Lansing, Michigan

Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Mayor Betsy Hodges, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Mayor Greg Stanton, Phoenix, Arizona

 pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov

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