This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending Jan. 30

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Week Ending January 30

This week in immigration reform: Attorney General nominee defends presidential authority on immigration; Senate to vote on DHS funding bill; and cities intervene to support administrative relief in state lawsuit.

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Loretta Lynch, nominated to be the next Attorney General, speaks up for Executive Action: This week the Senate Judiciary Committee began the confirmation hearing of Loretta Lynch. In response to questions about President Obama’s executive action regarding immigration, she defended the legal justification of the President’s action. Additionally, she echoed the Administration’s reasoning that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is unable to deport every undocumented individual, and thus prioritizing removals “seemed to be a reasonable way to marshal limited resources,” Lynch said.

Senate Majority Leader to bring House DHS funding bill to a vote, Democrats offer alternative: Next week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to bring the House-passed DHS funding bill to the floor. The bill contains amendments that would rollback not only the recently announced deferred action initiatives, but would also end the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. However, Senate Democrats are urging that the bill not even coming up for debate. A Politico article notes that the funding bill doesn’t have the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster and thus is already slated to fail. As funding for DHS expires February 27, Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Majority Leader, urging him to remove the harmful amendments from the House bill to create a realistic and passable version. At a retreat with Democratic lawmakers this week, President Obama reiterated that he would veto legislation that would repeal administrative relief.

USCIS will begin accepting applications for expanded DACA on Feb. 18:  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it will begin accepting requests for expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on February 18. Remember that all USCIS materials, including forms, are free and will be available at uscis.gov. NCLR will continue to share information about the new eligibility criteria for DACA and the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) when that process begins in May. Share our Spanish language infographic on DACA expansion and help get accurate information out in our community!

Diverse cities across the country support administrative relief: On Monday, 33 cities filed a legal brief in support of administrative relief for millions of families. The lawsuit was filed by 26 states seeking to block implementation of President Obama’s deferred action initiatives. A National Journal article offers an interesting perspective on the lawsuit: “In a telling comparison, the cities backing Obama in the federal case actually house a larger population of undocumented immigrants than the states opposing him, according to estimates by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.”

Additionally, “except for Texas, every state suing to block Obama has fewer undocumented immigrants potentially eligible for the executive action than Los Angeles alone; Florida is the only other state in the suit that has more potentially eligible than New York City. ‘Many of our cities are larger than those states that are even suing,’ Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti pointedly said recently.” The cities most affected by administrative relief are the ones voicing the strongest support, telling of the benefits of executive action.