Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Courting A Fight Over Immigration

Looks like the Republicans got the federal judge they wanted to block President Obama's immigration programs announced last November, and now begins the GOP plan to simply run out the clock by tying the executive orders up in court for the next two years. Of course, real peoples' lives are at stake here. Vox's Dara Lind:

Here's what this means: Until this ruling is reversed or a different ruling comes down in the future, the federal government isn't allowed to do anything to implement either of the new programs President Obama announced in November to protect unauthorized immigrants from deportation. 
Between the two programs, millions of immigrants were supposed to be eligible for deferred action (three years of protection from deportation) and work permits. Neither of those programs had actually started accepting applications yet, although one was supposed to start on Wednesday. Now they won't be able to start until further notice. 
Immigrants who are older than 30 but who came to the US as children or teenagers (and meet other requirements) were supposed to be able to apply for deferred action starting on February 18, an expansion of the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Now they'll have to wait. That's about 230,000 immigrants who'll remain vulnerable to deportation. 
There are also the 3.7 million unauthorized immigrants who are parents of US citizens or permanent residents who'd benefit from another program: Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. Applications were supposed to open this spring, but the government still hasn't put out the official application requirements and fee; it won't be able to finalize that, or announce it, under this ruling.

So yes, about 4 million people are directly affected by this, it's going to head to the Fifth Circuit, and it will probably be months before they get through with it. And surely the states suing the White House over immigration actions are going to want a SCOTUS injunction/appeal either way, which would most likely lead to a Supreme Court battle next year. Even if the injunction is lifted, the damage from the delay will be real:

When the administration created the first deferred-action program in 2012, for young unauthorized immigrants, they discovered the success of the program relied on people signing up — and on the ground, organizers learned that finding eligible immigrants and getting them to apply was the hardest part. Now, community groups are trying to educate a much larger, more diffuse immigrant population about the new deferred-action programs, and persuade them that it's safe to apply. But news and misinformation about the lawsuit is spreading confusion and fear among the very people these groups are trying to reach. 
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.

Which of course is the entire point.

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