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.

The Texas Lawsuit Challenging Obama’s Immigration Executive Actions Will Be Thrown Out — If the Judge Follows the Law

Originally posted in Huffington Post by David LeopoldUS-POLITICS-OBAMA-IMMIGRATION

Supporters of immigration reform are gearing up for what many expect to be bad news out of a federal court in Brownsville, Texas. Judge Andrew Hanen is about to decide whether or not to block the executive actions on deportations President Obama announced late last year. The actions, which have been challenged in federal court by the State of Texas and 25 other states, expand DACA — the deportation reprieve offered to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children — and create DAPA, a temporary deportation reprieve for undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful residents.

The conventional wisdom is that Judge Hanen will enjoin implementation of the executive actions, perhaps as early as this week. Observers cite to a 2013 opinion Judge Hanen wrote in U.S. v. Navara-Martinez, an unrelated criminal prosecution for alien smuggling. There Judge Hanen, using extremely harsh language, lamented what he described as “the apparent policy of the Department of Homeland Security of completing the criminal mission of individuals who are violating the border security of the U.S.” He went on to say the “Department of Homeland Security should enforce the laws of the United States — not break them.”

To many that sounds like a jurist itching to rule against Mr. Obama’s executive action on deportations. And it’s likely why the State of Texas filed the case in the Southern District of Texas where Judge Hanen presides. The 30 page lawsuit prominently citesNavara-Martinez in an obvious effort to remind the judge that he has already found that the Administration has colluded in a criminal conspiracy to violate the law.

But the conventional wisdom could be way off. In fact, there’s a strong chance that Judge Hanen will throw the case out — if he correctly follows the law.

Here’s why:

First, and perhaps most importantly, the State of Texas has filed a bogus complaint; it reads more like a factually inaccurate press release than a legal document. It fails to describe exactly how the plaintiff states are or will be concretely harmed by the temporary deportation reprieves; especially when the Administration has used all resources allocated to it annually by Congress to detain and deport undocumented immigrants — approximately 400,000 people a year — leading some to label President Obama the “deporter-in-chief.” Further, at least one federal court has dismissed a similar challenge to the President’s executive actions brought by Joe Arpaio, the infamous anti-immigrant sheriff of Maricopa County Arizona, concluding Arpaio lacked standing to sue. While the decision is not binding on Judge Hanen, its cogent analysis of the complex legal doctrine of standing certainly provides persuasive authority for the dismissal of the Texas lawsuit.

Second, there’s no question Judge Hanen is extremely frustrated with DHS’s policy of reuniting unaccompanied minors with their undocumented parents in the U.S. But his opinion in Navara-Martinez was just that, an opinion. While reasonable minds may differ as to the prudence of using a judicial forum to express such views, nothing Judge Hanen did exceeded the bounds of his authority as a federal judge. Indeed, he noted judges are not authorized to make policy. “This Court takes no position on the topic of immigration reform,” Judge Hanen wrote, “nor should one read this opinion as a commentary on that issue. That is a subject laced with controversy and is a matter of much political debate which is not the province of the judicial branch.”

Third, while Judge Hanen severely criticized what he termed the Administration’s “failure to enforce current United States law,” he did so in the context of an alien smuggling prosecution. Whether or not one agrees with the judge’s views, it’s clear he was neither criticizing the Administration’s civil immigration enforcement priorities nor questioning prosecutorial discretion in general, including deferred action on deportations. “This Court is not opposed to the concept of prosecutorial discretion,” wrote Hanen, “if that discretion is exercised with a sense of justice and common sense.” And it would seem — at least to me — that common sense immigration enforcement includes processes like DACA and DAPA which allow the Administration to focus limited resources on deporting dangerous felons, national security risks and recent border crossers rather than DREAMERS and mothers and fathers of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Judge Hanen, like all federal judges, has sworn to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform” his duties under the Constitution. That is a serious oath which requires him to fairly apply the law — regardless of whether or not he personally agrees with the President’s executive actions on deportations. In the meantime many will take comfort in knowing that whatever Judge Hanen decides he will not likely have the last word. That’s all but certain to come from the appellate courts.

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.

Do Republicans have grandparents too?

Originally posted on Neil Steinberg’s blog.

BY NEIL STEINBERG
This is my grandfather, Irwin Bramson. I don’t believe his picture has ever appeared in a newspaper before. He would be delighted to see it here.
My grandfather was not famous, or successful, beyond supporting his family, working in a factory in Cleveland that made machine parts. He eventually owned his own house, on Rossmoor Road in Cleveland Heights. He was very proud of that.
My grandfather was born on a farm in Bialystock Poland, in 1907 and was sent to this country because things were very bad there and he had a relative, a distant cousin in Cleveland who owned an automobile parts factory and would employ him. He left at 16 and never saw any of his family again; they were all murdered, man, woman and child by the Nazis and their henchmen.
When he got here, he no doubt faced the scorn of those who felt that America was being corrupted by racially inferior immigrants such as himself that all manner of subhumans and Jews, were poisoning American blood, that they were constitutionally different and would never fit in.
But he did fit in. He never went to college, but he met my grandmother, got married—they went to the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago on their honeymoon in 1934. They had three daughters, my mother being the eldest. Had they been born in Poland, they all would have been murdered too.
All of my memories of him involve him sitting in a green Barcalounger, watching “The Price Is Right.” He smoked cigarettes and drank bourbon. He sucked Luden’s Cherry Cough drops for his throat—he would die of emphysema in 1981.
He taught me chess. He would give me a dollar if I won and a dollar if I lost. He took me to my first baseball game. There was nothing mean or difficult about him. He did not complain. He asked nothing of anybody. In fact, he rarely spoke. He was a simple man, and I loved him.
Everyone in the United States, unless they are a Native-American, has a person like my grandfather in their past, someone who came over here to escape hardship or horror and make a life. Whether it was 5 or 50 or 500 years ago, the story is the same. They came over and the country let them in.
My grandfather became a citizen, not because he was a genius, not because he was harder working or smarter or better than any Mexican fording the Rio Grande. But because he could back then. There was an Ellis Island and a system that worked. Today Ellis Island is a shrine to ideals that half the country doesn’t believe anymore, who adopt the cruel role of the Americans who harassed their own forebears.
I thought of my grandfather, after I watched Barack Obama’s brief speech Thursday night—lucky I have cable because none of the networks, the supposed mainstream media supposedly in his thrall, bothered to show it. He announced his changes to immigration policy, to allow undocumented immigrants who have been here longer than five years to “get right with the law,” register and not fear deportation.
Before Obama even spoke, the Republicans, who oppose everything the president has done, is doing, or will do, made a show of opposing this too, a rare trifecta blending economic myopia, longterm political suicide, and lack of basic human decency. Only time will tell if they respond by trying to impeach him, shut down the government or some new strategem. The only thing that they are certain not to do is pass the comprehensive immigration reform which, announcing his stopgap, Obama called for.
That this is the right thing, that it is long overdue, that it will help the United States economy, that to do otherwise is cold hypocrisy and a denial of their own family, an insult the memory of my grandfather and theirs and the millions like him, never wrinkles their brow.
My wife and I watched the speech.
“He looks tired, frustrated,” my wife said.
“He’s trying to talk sense to idiots,” I said.
I’m glad I saw the speech, because I was starting to think very little of Obama, just by osmosis, just by living in a country where he is so despised. I wish he had done this three months, six months, a year ago. Not doing so was the kind of small, mean political calculation that has hobbled his presidency. The Democrats got drubbed anyway.
But now I realize, the bottom line with Obama is: he did what he could do. He didn’t waste effort trying the impossible. Even his narrowed options were tough to manage.
The good news is, he’s already won.
As with gay marriage, the notion of no longer keeping millions who came to this country illegally in rightless limbo forever will seem an impossibility until suddenly it doesn’t and everybody wonders what took us so long to do the moral thing. Then the people who are castigating the president now will be hard to find. Cornered, they will shrug off their fanatical opposition to people just like their own grandparents with some easy rationalization. What really struck me about the president’s speech is he could speak the words at all, that he somehow found the stamina to present a cogent argument to rabid enemies who stopped listening long ago. There is a nobility to that.

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.

This morning’s must read: @seungminkim’s Proxy fight–several GOP senators positioning themselves around an immigration fight

If the Senate GOP leadership permits Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) to turn the Lynch Attorney General confirmation hearing into a proxy fight over the President’s authority to make the immigration system work better until Congress passes an overhaul of the dysfunctional law, it’ll be proof positive that the GOP has been gaming the country on immigration reform the whole time, that they never intended to do anything other than implement the nativists’ mean spirited call for “self deportation.”

Posted on Politico

By Seung Min Kim

11/10/14 11:24 PM EST

Updated 11/11/14 5:58 AM EST

Senate Republicans plan to turn the battle over attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch into a larger debate over immigration, using the confirmation hearings as a proxy war over presidential power rather than a debate over Lynch’s qualifications.

Lynch, who would be the first black female attorney general, is considered a strong nominee, with a long record as a federal prosecutor. That makes the political fight over Barack Obama and his executive powers a much better bet for Republicans who took control of the Senate riding the president’s unpopularity.
Story Continued Below

The Republicans’ early strategy, according to comments from senators and several Republican aides close to the Judiciary Committee, centers on whether the president has the authority to bypass Congress on immigration — allowing Republicans to write their own narrative on the nomination.

“The president is increasingly on a smaller and smaller island if he goes forward with this action and the next item of business is the nomination of the attorney general,” one Senate Republican aide said Monday. “Don’t underestimate the capacity for that to become a major battle front.”

Several GOP senators are publicly positioning themselves around an immigration fight.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah have signaled that immigration will be a large part of their line of questioning against Lynch when her confirmation process begins, which they said should happen after the new Republican majority is seated in January.

“The nominee must demonstrate full and complete commitment to the law,” Cruz and Lee said in a joint statement. “Loretta Lynch deserves the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities, beginning with a statement whether or not she believes the president’s executive amnesty plans are constitutional and legal.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the strategy.
But Hill Democrats say the Republican plan could backfire.
“I don’t think that issue should be central to Loretta Lynch’s confirmation,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an interview Monday, adding that he said he wanted to see Lynch considered and confirmed “promptly.”

Since Attorney General Eric Holder said in September he planned to step down, a handful of other Senate Republicans have signaled the issue of executive action on immigration would be a central issue in confirming his successor. For example, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama has, for weeks, been encouraging fellow senators to oppose any replacement for Holder who does not “firmly reject” Obama’s plan for executive action on immigration.

The chatter is preliminary — Congress is officially back in session Wednesday, and senators will have more time then to hash out a more formal strategy on Lynch’s nomination process. But key aides on Monday sketched out an initial strategy that centers on grilling Lynch — the federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York — over Obama’s pending immigration action and whether she backs it.

A slew of other hot-button issues are sure to surface during Lynch’s confirmation hearings, such as the Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal, the contentious debate over voter ID laws and executive overreach, Republican aides added.

“Decisions and actions by President Obama and Attorney General Holder have made the proper bounds of executive power a critically important issue for this confirmation process,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Monday, signaling that will be a priority in deciding whether to confirm Lynch.

But the dominant issue will be immigration — and President Barack Obama’s looming executive action that could potentially halt deportations for millions of immigrants here without legal status. Obama has promised to keep his pledge to Latino and immigration advocates to act on deportations by the end of the year.

Senate Democrats don’t think the strategy will work.

“With Republicans on these issues, they always run the risk of overreach,” added a Senate Democratic leadership aide. “She’s not tied to the administration, she hasn’t had a tie to any of these past executive actions. … Efforts to tie her down to that stuff would come across as overly political.”

No decisions have been made on when the Senate will take up Lynch’s nomination to be the nation’s chief law enforcement official, officials said Monday. But one Democratic leadership aide said senators were leaning toward installing Lynch in the new Congress, when the GOP will be in control of the chamber.

Senate Democrats are banking on the view that the twice-confirmed Lynch, who would be the nation’s first black female attorney general with the Senate’s blessing, would be qualified enough to be confirmed under a Democratic- or GOP-led chamber.

“She should have no difficulty whatsoever on the merits,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview Monday. “There is not a scintilla of factual basis to challenge her.”
The lame-duck session leaves an already truncated timeline to handle a high-profile nomination such as attorney general, and Congress is already buried under other must-do legislative priorities. The process to confirm Lynch has barely started on Capitol Hill — the Judiciary Committee has yet to receive Lynch’s paperwork, an aide said — and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has made National Security Agency reform his top priority in the lame-duck session.

Republicans prefer to leave the task of confirming Lynch to the new Congress. Presumptive incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that Lynch should be “considered in the new Congress through regular order.”

Incoming Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has pledged a “very fair, but thorough” vetting, noting that U.S. attorneys are “rarely” promoted straight to the attorney general spot.
“So I look forward to learning more about her, how she will interact with Congress and how she proposes to lead the department,” he said.

In theory, the Senate could begin the nomination process in the lame-duck session under Leahy and continue in the new Congress under Grassley, Democratic aides said. When the Senate considered the nomination of John Ashcroft for attorney general in 2001, a handful of the hearings were held under Leahy and later under Hatch, who assumed the Judiciary chairmanship in late January 2001.

But that option doesn’t appear to be under serious consideration for now, and Republicans are sure to gain seats on the Judiciary Committee in the new Congress. If the process begin during the current Congress and continues into the next, new Republican members may not get the opportunity to question Lynch.

Still, other Senate Democrats want to clear her nomination quickly. In an interview Monday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said confirming Holder’s successor should be done as soon as possible, pointing to the continuing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, as one area that awaits the incoming attorney general.

“I believe we have an obligation to confirm the attorney general as quickly as we can,” McCaskill said. “I think we need to do our work, unless there’s a problem with this woman’s background.”

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

WATCH VIDEO: SELESTE ASKS PRESIDENT OBAMA NOT TO DEPORT HER HUSBAND PEDRO

From America’s Voice

Watch Seleste’s message begging President Obama not to deport her husband below, then sign the petition to keep Pedro at home!

There’s so much at stake for this family — will you take a moment and help?

Send a message telling immigration officials in the Obama Administration to stop Pedro’s deportation now!

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