Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Immigrant advocates: Injunction won't stop us

In the wake of a federal injunction temporarily halting President Obama’s recent immigration executive actions on deportation relief for millions of immigrants, advocates say their big concern is not the legal battle ahead but the confusion and inaction that might result among immigrant families even if the Obama administration ultimately prevails.

“We’re telling them to keep gathering documents together and saving money for the fees,” Perla Hinojosa, area coordinator with Mi Familia Vota said Tuesday at a rally in downtown Tampa held with other community groups.

The rally and information sessions slated for later in the evening were among more than 70 nationwide events previously planned by immigrant advocates to help prepare millions of unauthorized immigrants to register for the programs, which are now on hold.

That includes one program that was scheduled to open to applications on Wednesday among hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants over the age of 30 who were brought to the country as children or teenagers. Another was set to open later in the spring for almost 4 million unauthorized immigrants who are parents of citizens or permanent residents.

While Republicans touted the injunction as a victory, immigrant advocates said they are confident that the Obama administration will ultimately win on the legal front. However, they worry about the lasting impact of news coverage about the injunction and possible confusion it might create among immigrant families possibly eligible for the programs.

The programs’ success depends not just on a court victory, but also upon families later applying for them, advocates say. They are encouraging families to continue gathering required documents for the expected applications, and to save money for the $465 fee.

“The injunction from the judge doesn't stop the work we need to do in the community,” Nanci Palacios, a lead community organizer with Faith in Florida, said at the Tampa rally.

Her parents, both unauthorized immigrants originally from Mexico, had planned to apply for the program in the spring because her 13-year-old brother was born in the United States and is a citizen. Palacios, 26, and her two sisters received work permits and protection from deportation under the original 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA – which is not impacted by Monday’s injunction.

Palacios, who travels as an immigration community organizer, worries whenever she is away from home if she will return to find that her parents have been deported.

“Every time I leave, especially if I am out of state, I have that fear,” she said.

Palacios said the deferred action programs, though a temporary fix in the larger question of immigration reform, were a victory for immigrant families and advocates, who will be working harder on information campaigns as the legal maneuvering continues over the injunction and court challenge.

“We’re not going to let it stop us,” she said.
Vox.com and other outlets summarized the implications of the injunction late Monday night by a federal district judge in Texas.
1.    Federal judge Andrew Hanen just ruled that the Obama administration has to temporarily halt implementation of its executive actions on immigration.
2.    The ruling comes right before the administration was going to open up applications for immigrants older than 30 who came to the US as children to apply for protection from deportation and work permits. It also affects a program that was supposed to open later this spring, for parents of US citizens and permanent residents.
3.    The injunction means Hanen thinks there's a substantial chance that he's going to ultimately rule that the executive actions were made illegally, siding with the 26 states that have sued the administration.
4.    The Obama administration is expected to file to keep the injunction itself from going into effect; the Fifth Circuit will take up the question in a few weeks.

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