This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending Jan. 15

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This week in immigration reform: the House Republican leadership proceeds with votes to block administrative relief; groups file briefs in state lawsuit supporting executive action; and the Migration Policy Institute releases new county-level data on DACA and DAPA eligible populations.

NCLR kept the community informed on immigration with staff quoted in The Hill, Arizona Daily StarUnivision, andEFE.

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House amendment votes show Republican leadership is interested in moving backwards instead of proposing necessary solutions: This week, the House of Representatives passed a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the fiscal year. Attached to the bill were five amendments gutting the president’s administrative relief, reinstating the detrimental Secure Communities program, defunding DACA, and requiring local authorities to honor immigration-detainers.

Click on the following links to find how your Representative voted:

The Aderholt amendment to block and defund the executive actions passed 236-190.

The Blackburn amendment to block and defund DACA narrowly passed 218-209.

Final passage of the bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, as amended, passed 236-161.

NCLR president and CEO Janet Murguía reacted in a press statement saying, “The House Republican leadership and Caucus may believe that they voted against the president today, but they actually voted against the millions of American families whose loved ones are working very hard to get right with the law. And they voted against millions more, including the majority of Americans who strongly support the substance of the president’s policy.

She continued, “Adding insult to injury, House Republicans voted to undo the one program in the last two decades that has done anything to help resolve our immigration issue, gratuitously harming hundreds of thousands of young people who are now able to make stronger contributions to our economy and communities. Our country has seen the benefit of helping DREAMers, as it will see the myriad benefits of helping families through administrative relief. That is why these efforts to take away relief will not stand.”

The DHS funding bill now moves to the Senate, where passage is anything but guaranteed. Even if the new Republican majority in the Senate can garner enough votes for passage, President Obama has already stated he will veto any legislation that would undermine administrative relief. This week, NCLR posted a blog to encourage our community to continue preparing documents and resources to apply for deferred action, even in light of the politicking in Congress.

Local law enforcement officers among the groups submitting briefs in the lawsuit regarding President Obama’s relief for five million immigrants: Just yesterday, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen heard arguments in the lawsuit from states over executive action. No ruling was issued and no date was set for an additional hearing or a ruling. While the case might take weeks or months to resolve, there is broad support for administrative relief. An article from The Hill finds that the American people are not only supportive of the goal of President Obama’s executive action, but they in fact support the very action itself. A CBS News poll found that 55% of Americans say Congress should permit executive action to remain in place.

In addition to general public support, law enforcement officers, including the Austin Police Chief, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and numerous Texas sheriffs, are making a case for administrative relief. They submitted a brief, noting that new provisions under the president’s executive action enhance officer-community relations because those enforcing the law cannot do so if their communities do not cooperate with them. President Obama directed DHS to end the harmful Secure Communities program and to replace it with the Priority Enforcement Program, which seeks to rebuild trust between immigrants and their local law enforcement. Read more and find a link to the brief in this article.

In addition to law enforcement, numerous civil rights and advocacy organizations filed an amicus brief in support of administrative relief. An American Immigration Council press release indicates the brief includes testimonials of individuals who will benefit from the President’s action, including entrepreneurs and community leaders. Twelve states also filed a legal analysis in the case, explaining why the president has the authority to provide deportation relief for millions of families and how that action will economically benefit states. Read more and find a link to the brief in thisarticle.

Resource – Migration Policy Institute releases new DACA/DAPA numbers: NCLR, our Affiliates and other organizations are already preparing to assist with applications for the expanded DACA program and the new DAPA program. This week, MPI released a new data tool with data on those potentially eligible for administrative relief, including breakdowns for the top 94 counties with the largest unauthorized populations. Look up the county you serve to find out about educational attainment, English proficiency and other attributes that will inform the unique challenges affecting outreach to our community.

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