Immigration Updates from Bruce Lamb

Immigration Updates from Bruce Lamb

Board of Church & Society


Immigration Updates from Bruce Lamb

Undocumented immigrants’ parents have an opportunity to avoid deportation with the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability(DAPA) program initiated by President Barack Obama's executive action on Nov. 20, 2014.  However, many states have taken to the courts to block this program.  Learn more:

The LA Times had a good article Monday (10/19/15) looking at DACA and DAPA
“What Happened to the president’s immigration programs?”
Read full article:

Demonstrators are fasting this week in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit of New Orleans, protesting the suit brought by 26 states that are seeking to end temporary protection from deportation granted to immigrants by executive action.
"Each day that the court delays a ruling, it tears apart thousands of families and forces millions more to succumb to uncertainty. There are some who relish playing politics with the courts and people's lives and are putting American values on hold," said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
The coalition includes Texas and 25 states…the coalition is arguing in their lawsuit that, “This lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law, presidential power and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution.” In February, Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the Federal District Court in Brownsville, Texas, issued a preliminary injunction halting the executive action programs while the case is pending and later refused to lift it. The government appealed, but in May, a different three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit refused to lift Hanen's stay after hearing oral arguments from both sides. In May, the two judges refused to lift the injunction halting the programs in part because they believed Texas officials could suffer a “cognizable injury” from the cost of having to issue driver’s licenses to at least 500,000 people who might be covered under the executive action. At the July hearing, the judges again questioned the impact executive action would have on the states and whether a slew of other landmark cases reinforced their standing to sue.
*Even if the Supreme Court hears the case, the earliest a decision is expected is June, ahead of the presidential elections, which – if the court finds in favor of the programs – leaves only a few months for the administration to implement them.
The Washington Post: “Whatever Happened to Obama’s sweeping executive actions on immigration?”
Nearly a year ago President Obama announced a sweeping plan to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, arguing that a mass exodus of undocumented immigrants “would be both impossible and contrary to our character.” Republican candidates on the campaign trail have been vowing to overturn them and Democrat Hillary Clinton strongly vowing to support them. Activists nationwide have mobilized to help immigrants apply for relief. Yet – Obama’s plan has gone – and may be going – nowhere. It remains in legal limbo in a New Orleans federal appeals court that heard arguments in July and has yet to make a decision.
The three month wait does not sit well with immigration advocates, who last week launched a nine-day fast and vigil outside the federal courthouse, where three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals from the 5thCircuit are debating the programs fate. “Three months is too long. There are five million lives in limbo,” said Tara Raghuveer, policy and advocacy director for the Chicago-based National Partnership for New Americans, a coalition of 37 immigrant advocacy groups. She voiced concern that the 5th Circuit, known as one of the nation’s most conservative appellate courts, may be joining opponents of the program in “an intentional legal strategy to delay any potential implementation.”
 The window for the Supreme Court to hear the case during its term is starting to close: the court must generally accept a case by January to hold oral arguments and reach a decision before it adjourns in June. A case accepted after January would likely be held over until the term that begins in October 2016, pushing the issue to the next administration. It remains unclear whether the 5th Circuit judges will weigh in.
I also found this Washington Post story from June helpful as I continue to get up to speed on immigration: “Obama Administration stops work on immigration program”

 Third Way: "Sanctuary City Bill is no fix to immigration challenges"
Only two years after passing a bipartisan bill that would have overhauled our immigration system—only to watch it die on the vine in the House without ever getting a vote—the Senate is preparing to vote on immigration legislation once again. But the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act introduced by Senator Vitter (R-LA) is a much different kind of immigration bill. Instead of fixing the problem, it would pass the buck and blame cities and jurisdictions that are doing the best they can to deal with the flawed system Congress has failed to reform. And there’s no doubt it is motivated more by a desire to score political points than to address the real issues at stake, as the quandary of cities refusing to comply with federal immigration authorities is less common today than it was just a year ago—and even if that weren’t the case, this bill wouldn’t fix it.
Latin Times: "4 Things you need to know about the Republican Sanctuary city bill”
10/19/2015 -

The “Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act” (S.2146) is slated for a vote today in the U.S. Senate. If passed it would punish municipalities that fail to comply with immigration detainer requests, and the mandatory minimum sentences for certain immigration violations. The bill is part of a backlash against municipal policing policies following the death of Kate Steinle, a San Francisco resident who was allegedly shot by an immigrant in the country illegally. The man, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was released from a local jail despite a request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain him.
*With poor republican support and staunch opposition from democrats the bill is unlikely to pass, let alone meet the requirements to override an inevitable veto from President Barack Obama.
What the bill would do: short answer… restrict federal grants for low-income housing and policing; shield cops from liability, add mandatory minimum sentences to some immigration violations. The bill would impose minimum sentencing requirements for certain repeat immigration violators. Those convicted of an immigration violation could face a five year minimum sentence. This is the part referred to as “Kate’s Law.”
Who supports the bill: Short answer…anti-immigrant groups, select republican senators.
With immigrants like Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez slipping through the systems’ cracks, supporters of the bill want to find a way to make sure that foreigners with long rap sheets are deported. In short, supporters of the “Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act” argue that it would improve public safety.
Who opposes the bill: local cop organizations, pro-immigrant groups, The New York Times. Opponents of the law argue that it would reduce public safety. “We fail if the public fears their police and will not come forward when we need them. Whether we seek to stop child predators, drug dealers, rapists or robbers – we need the full cooperation of victims and witness. Cooperation is not forthcoming from persons who see their police as immigration agents,” Manger said at a Judiciary Committee hearing about the bill in July. While some visa programs already shield potential victims and witnesses from deportation, it is has over a one-year backlog. Plus, immigrants whose complaints are not prosecuted aren’t eligible. What that means in practice is that, for example, a domestic violence victim can be deported as a consequence of reporting a crime. “When immigrants come to view their local police and sheriffs with distrust because they fear deportation, it creates conditions that encourage criminals to prey upon victims and witnesses alike.” Manger added in his testimony.
What are Sanctuary Cities?
The Christian Post 10/19/2015: "Congress: Sanctuary Cities are Biblical, don’t scapegoat them"
…. As a result of these efforts, I saw Christians and faith leaders come together to build upon the Sanctuary Movement by specifically sheltering and accompanying families unjustly facing separation through deportation as a result of illogical and inhumane laws.
We both experienced firsthand the impact of families separated by the broken immigration system and have actively worked with state and local government to make sure we are deporting only the true criminals in our midst.
Together we have seen this movement become instrumental in shaping law enforcement's relationship with communities, creating a greater sense of trust and safety.
We support Sanctuary initiatives, and we believe the most effective response to the suffering of individuals and families caused by outdated, ineffective immigration legislation is to address our broken immigration system.
At a time when anti-immigration rhetoric in the media is escalating alongside this tragic loss of a young woman at the hand of an undocumented immigrant, we need to work together with more commitment to replace our immigration laws with a process that works. In doing this we will make our communities more humane and morally just places to live.
NYT Opinion Pages editorial board 10/16/2015: The Great ‘Sanctuary City’ Slander
These are jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, or try in other ways to protect unauthorized immigrants from unjust deportation. The Senate is voting today (Tuesday) on a bill by David Vitter to punish these cities by denying them federal law-enforcement funds. The House passed its version in July. North Carolina’s legislature has passed a bill forbidding sanctuary policies. NYT says these laws are a false fix for a concocted problem. They are based on the lie that all unauthorized immigrants are dangerous criminals who must be subdued by extraordinary means. The laws are a class action slander against an immigrant population that has been scapegoated for the crimes of a few, and left stranded by the failure of legislative reform that would open a path for them to live fully within the law.
The country needs more sanctuary cities. It needs them to underscore what should be a bright line between civil immigration enforcement, a federal responsibility, and the state and local criminal-justice systems.