This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending April 10

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Week Ending April 10

This week in immigration: update on two lawsuits challenging administrative relief; NCLR continues our blog series on deferred action recipients; and recent state-level action on immigration.

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Update on lawsuits challenging executive action: This week, Judge Hanen, who halted implementation of President Obama’s expanded DACA and new DAPA programs, again reiterated his ruling blocking deferred action. He refused to lift the injunction he issued almost a month ago. Regardless, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on April 17, with a decision on allowing the programs to proceed following. Groups continue to demonstrate their support of administrative relief through the filing of numerous amicus briefs on the side of the Obama Administration. NCLR joined with 153 other civil, labor and immigrant rights groups to submit an amicus brief defending executive action. In the brief, the groups present evidence and cases illustrating how delaying the implementation of these programs harms the nation’s economy and communities. NCLR’s Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, Deputy Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation notes: “It is time to allow common sense to prevail. The legitimate, precedent-based actions taken by the president will bring relief to millions of American families living in fear of losing a family member to deportation, and they will strengthen our economy by having those who are working do so legally, contributing more taxes and preventing bad employers from gaming the system.”

Groups also filing amicus briefs: four Democratic Senators, 181 Democratic Representatives, a bipartisan group of former Members of Congress, the AFL-CIO, fifteen states and the District of Columbia, 73 city officials, the United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities.

Also this week: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a different lawsuit that challenged President Obama’s 2012 DACA program filed by Mississippi and a group of federal immigration agents. The three-judge panel found that the plaintiffs failed to show how deferred action would harm Mississippi. According to an article on Vox, this may be good news for the pending Texas lawsuit, as the judges deciding the Mississippi case note: “The (2012) Napolitano Directive makes it clear that the Agents shall exercise their discretion in deciding to grant deferred action, and this judgment should be exercised on a case-by-case basis […] The 2014 supplemental directive, which also supplements DACA, reinforces this approach to the application of deferred action.”

NCLR Blog features DACA recipient Maria Pacheco: This week’s installment of our ‘Living the American DREAM’ blog series features the story of Maria Pacheco, originally from Mexico, who came to the U.S. with her mother to be reunited with her father. Maria and her family have been actively involved with HOLA, a community-based organization in Ohio. That is where she heard about DACA and was able to apply for deferred action and work authorization. Since receiving DACA, Maria has worked several jobs, continued to engage her Latino peers, and is starting at Lakeland Community College to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. Maria notes: “I always wanted to be a teacher. Teachers are role models who contribute to this nation. Immigrants, like teachers, have a lot to offer to our country.

State Happening:

  • Tennessee is moving forward with an in-state tuition bill for undocumented students who have been granted deferred action. An article in the Tennessean notes: “About 25,000 undocumented students in Tennessee could become eligible for deferred action, according to the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. TIRRC (an NCLR Affiliate) estimates thousands of students would not qualify for in-state tuition under the stricter requirements included in the amendment, although TIRRC spokesman Eben Cathey said the bill was still a good first step.”
  • California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León issued a press statement announcing a 10-bill package to protect hardworking undocumented immigrants. The statement includes a quote by NCLR’s Delia de la Vara, Vice President, California: “NCLR California is excited to support the Immigrants Shape California Legislative Package announced by Senate Pro Tem De León and Speaker Atkins. This package illustrates an unassailable truth: that immigrants are part of our economic and social engine, and that their fair treatment will only strengthen their contributions to California’s progress. Congress should take note; this is yet one more example of how California is leading the way.”
  • Illinois’ Loyola University student body approved (70%) a referendum to create a scholarship fund for undocumented students. The referendum would increase student fees by $5 a year to fund the Magis Scholarship. Loyola has been a leader in welcoming undocumented students: In 2013, Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine was the first school in the nation to admit students who received deferred action through the DACA program.
  • Texas DREAMers are currently battling to keep a state DREAM Act in place. A bill currently in the state senate would repeal in-state tuition for students who have lived in Texas for a minimum of three years and who graduated from a Texas high school. However, advocates might be close to blocking the measure. An article from the El Paso Times notes that one Republican state senator has come out in opposition to the bill and if a few more Republicans side with him, the bill will not meet the threshold warranting full senate consideration.

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