By Doug Porter
A Federal District Court Judge in Brownsville, Texas has issued a ruling temporarily blocking President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
While the White House says the ruling will be appealed and many legal analysts say the injunction won’t stand up to challenges on appeal, the uncertainty involving the legal process represents a psychological victory for the nativist core of the Republican Party.
GOP leaders have cheered the ruling, saying it proves President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration exceeded his legal authority. Millions of other folks feel otherwise.
From the Associated Press, via the Sacramento Bee:
House Speaker John Boehner says a federal judge’s ruling temporarily blocking President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration underscores that he acted beyond his authority.
In a statement Tuesday, the Ohio Republican said the ruling by a Texas judge was no surprise, citing Obama’s repeated comments about the limits of his authority. Boehner said he hoped that Senate Democrats will relent in their opposition to a Homeland Security Department spending bill that overturns Obama’s actions to spare millions of immigrants from deportation.
The department’s funding expires Feb. 27 and Congress has only a few legislative days to act.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said in a statement that he hoped Obama obeys the court’s ruling. The Justice Department has said it would appeal.
As is usually the case with Republican pronouncements the truth of the matter is something different. From Dara Lind at Vox.com
The reason that Judge Hanen is stopping Obama’s actions actually isn’t about the Constitution at all. As Josh Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law who filed a brief on behalf of the states in this case, says, “Generally, courts will not reach the constitutional question unless they need to.”
…Hanen’s ruling is about a procedural law called the Administrative Procedures Act, and in particular the “notice and comment requirement” — which is the typical procedure for making federal regulations. According to Cecilia Wang, Director of the Immigrant Rights Project for the ACLU, Hanen’s ruling says that “if (the government) wanted to do these things it should have provided notice in the Federal Register, with period for comment.” But because the Obama administration didn’t do that for these actions, the ruling says, it violated the law.
Who Gets Hurt by the Texas Immigration Ruling
Not cheering the ruling are the estimated four million people thought to be eligible for programs announced in November to protect unauthorized immigrants from deportation.
The ruling means 290,000 immigrants older than 30 but who came to the US as children or teenagers (and meet other requirements) who were supposed to be able to apply for deferred action starting on February 18 will have to wait.
And there are also 3.7 million unauthorized immigrants who are parents of US citizens or permanent residents who’d benefit from another program starting later this spring. Under this ruling the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans is on hold; application requirements and fee won’t be finalized until the case is resolved.
Local immigration activists headed up by Congressman Juan Vargas responded to the ruling, gathering at Christ the King Catholic Community Church.
“The ruling from a district judge in Texas against administrative relief is an attack on youth, workers, and families; this temporary setback hurts our economy and wastes taxpayer resources. We are certain that meritless legal actions against DACA and DAPA will fail, and we encourage eligible San Diegans to get prepared to apply,” stated Christian Ramírez, Human Rights Director at Alliance San Diego.
A press release from the Immigrant Rights Consortium says 91,000 people in San Diego County will be affected.
From the Washington Post:
Organizers are worried about a “chilling effect”: by the time applications do open for deferred action, immigrants will have been intimidated out of applying, because they won’t believe the program is safe or permanent.
This is one of the reasons opponents brought this lawsuit; even if it ultimately fails, it could discourage many from availing themselves of the program.
Supporters of the President’s executive orders on immigration claim plaintiffs in this went “shopping” for a judge who would write a favorable opinion. In an August ruling, Judge Hanen said the Obama administration “endangers America” through its policies.
How the Press Reacted
Here’s how the right-wing Washington Times [warning: racism rage triggers] reported on the ruling.
A federal judge late Monday halted President Obama’s deportation amnesty, ruling he overstepped his powers in trying to grant legal status and “benefits and privileges” to millions of illegal immigrants, in a stunning decision that chides the president and throws the White House’s plans into disarray just a day before applications were to be accepted.
The White House said it will appeal Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s decision, but it’s unclear whether the case could reach the circuit court in New Orleans or even the Supreme Court before Wednesday, which is when the Homeland Security Department had planned to begin accepting the first applications under the new amnesty.
Sometimes it seems like language is the white hood of the 21st century. Over at the Hill, we learn:
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen wrote that 26 states that filed a lawsuit against the action would “suffer irreparable harm” without a preliminary injunction and that the constitutional question must be decided before the administration can move forward with its plans.
“Once these services are provided, there will be no effective way of putting the toothpaste back in the tube should Plaintiffs ultimately prevail on the merits,” Hanen wrote…
“…This judge and his right-wing backers can’t bend the law to their personal will. They stand on the wrong side of history and justice. The law is on the side of the president, who has broad authority to determine immigration enforcement policy,” SEIU Executive Vice President Rocio Saenz said in a statement.
“Immigrant families are not the enemy,” Saenz added. “We are confident that justice will prevail as this case moves through the court system and that the relief granted by the president will take effect to the benefit of millions of families.”
An NPR story included the White House reaction:
“The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement released Tuesday morning.
The injunction gives 26 states more time to form legal arguments against the actions, which were expected to protect as many as four million people who are in the U.S. illegally from being deported. The plan also includes an option to apply for work permits.
Why This Legal Strategy is Racist
Somewhere out there there’s a true believer saying “but this about the President’s constitutional authority.” Here’s a quote from an article at Reason.com (certainly not a liberal publication) explaining–with links–why it is indeed legal.
President Obama’s recent order deferring the deportation of up to 5 million undocumented immigrants has led to enormous controversy. Many, especially on the political right, argue that it undermines the rule of law. The president, they contend, is required to enforce federal law as written, not pick and choose which violators to go after and which to exempt based on policy considerations.
In reality, Obama’s actions were well within the scope of executive authority under the Constitution. In a world where authorities can prosecute only a small fraction of lawbreakers, all presidents inevitably make policy choices about which violations of federal law to prosecute and which to ignore. Such choices are inevitably affected by policy preferences. Obama’s decision to defer deportation is in line with those of past presidents. And if any lawbreakers deserve to benefit from prosecutorial discretion, immigrants fleeing Third World poverty and oppression have a particularly strong case. Moreover, at least under the original meaning of the Constitution, the constitutionality of the immigration laws that Obama has chosen not to enforce in some cases, is itself suspect….
Obama is far from the first president to exempt large numbers of illegal immigrants from deportation. Past presidents such as Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, have done so as well, including some 1.5 million people in the case of Bush. That does not by itself prove that Obama is acting legally; perhaps Reagan and Bush were undermining the rule of law as well. But it does at least provide an important precedent, especially since few in either party claimed that the prior administrations’ actions were illegal at the time they were done. In this field, Congress itself has delegated wide latitude to the president, which makes the exercise of discretion even less problematic than in many other cases where the law is written in a more categorical way.
The reality here is that Republicans in the House of Representatives have passed on even being willing to discuss, much less amend or vote on, immigration reform legislation passed with bi-partisan support in the Senate.
A group of nativist extremists in the GOP have successfully prevented even discussing the subject. These extremists lie, blaming immigrants for everything from measles to ebola to unemployment and they do it for a reason: the people involved are not Anglos.
With a little bit of luck this extremist group will end funding for the Department of Homeland Security next week. It’s a largely symbolic act, but one that underscores just how desperate these people are to protect their whiteness.
The so-called moderates in the GOP who allow this obstruction are, in my opinion, just as racist.
Meanwhile, back in the real world…
The LA Times Makes a Creative Move
The Los Angeles Times announced yesterday the formation of a partnership with journalist Jose Antonio Vargas to be called #EmergingUS. They have managed to avoid the question of Vargas citizenship by hiring his company to provide content, both on the internet and in print.
According to a press release, the multimedia platform will examine “the intersection of race, immigration, identity and the complexities of multiculturalism. #EmergingUS will aim to illuminate these issues and create a dialogue at a time when demographic shifts are transforming the face of America.”
Vargas, who is also an undocumented immigrant, revealed his status in an article in The New York Times Magazine in 2011. Last year, he created the film “Documented” about his own experiences in the U.S.. Vargas, who startedDefine American, was also detained last year in McAllen, Texas by U.S. border patrol agents. He was later released.
In the press release, Times Publisher Austin Beutner spoke about the partnership.
“Los Angeles is the most diverse big city in our country, America’s window to Asia and Latin America. Los Angeles is where America comes to see its future, and part of that future will be built on a better understanding of how diversity plays a role in our lives,” said Times Publisher and CEO Austin Beutner. “Jose is uniquely suited to look at the issues and find and tell stories that will inform all of us.”
Chargers to San Diego: Or Else!
From today’s UT-San Diego sermon on the mount:
In a six-page document that he released to the news media and then delivered to the task force, Fabiani made it clear — again — that Chargers ownership is frustrated over the unsuccessful 14-year effort to get a new stadium. He listed four “principles” and a bunch of “stress tests” that he hopes will guide the task force’s work. He warned that the team will not participate in “any effort to provide political cover for elected officials.” He warned that a new stadium could well cost more than the earlier estimates of $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion. He warned against a stadium-construction financing plan using revenue streams that would normally go to the team. He warned against any untested financing schemes such as the one attempted for the expansion of the downtown convention center, which was ruled unconstitutional, or any other proposal that tries to skirt requirements for a two-thirds public vote of approval. And, of course, he alluded to the obvious, that the Chargers are keeping a close eye on proposals to build a new stadium in Los Angeles….
…It makes no sense for Fabiani to continually poke a finger in the eye of the one guy, Mayor Faulconer, who is trying to finally develop a stadium proposal that will be good for the team and City Hall and will be accepted by voters. If the Chargers are not willing partners in that process, then this is all a waste of time.
Here’s some reaction from the intertubes, via the UT’s Matt Hall:
— Matthew T. Hall (@SDuncovered) February 16, 2015
Here’s my reaction: Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.
On This Day: 1937 – Sixty-three sit-down strikers, demanding recognition of their union, were tear-gassed and driven from two Fansteel Metallurgical Corp. plants in Chicago. Two years later the U.S. Supreme Court declared sit-down strikes illegal. The tactic had been a major industrial union organizing tool 1964 – The Supreme Court ruled that congressional districts within each state had to be approximately equal in population. (Westberry v. Sanders) 1990 – Aerosmith appeared on “Saturday Night Live”. The performed the Wayne’s World theme song while appearing in the skit as themselves.
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