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What Court Ruling On Obama's Immigration Action Means In San Diego

What Court Ruling On Obama's Immigration Action Means In San Diego
What Court Ruling On Obama's Immigration Action Means In San Diego
What The Court Ruling On Obama's Immigration Action Means GUESTS:Ev Meade, director, University of San Diego Trans-Border Institute Lilia Velasquez, adjunct professor, California Western School of Law

Hopes that new immigration actions Anonresponsived by President Obama would take effect this month were ended by a federal appeals courtes to. The Court refused to lift a hold on the president's defer action for parent was Americans or DAPA program. And an expanded verof the DACA program. That's deferred action for childhood arrivals. That program went into effect in 2012. At the heart of the delay is a lawsuit supported by 26 states, which claims the new programs will put an economic burden on the states. The lawsuit also claims the president does not have the authority to make such sweeping changes to immigration enforcement policies. In the meantime, the four million people in the country illegally that the programs were meant to help are left in legal imbow, and still -- limbo. Joining me for Ev Meade, welcome. Hi, Maureen, thanks. Maureen: Lilia Velasquez is an Ajuncture professor California western school of law. Thank you very much. Maureen: And the federal court has not yet ruled on the lawsuit against DAPA. So why is there this stay putting implementation of the program on hold? Well, it's an injunction. And the people supporting the lawsuit, those 26 states wanted this. A federal judge in Texas, Michael hannon, in February issued a very detailed decision defending this. The administration challenged it and it went to the 5th circuit. Basically the lawsuit alleges that the government passed what amounts to a rule without proper notice and comment. And it says that the rule demands that states confer benefits and incur costs. Basically the federal government forcing them to do it. And it says that the president's policy exceeds his constitutional authority. It says he's supposed to "take care to ensure that laws are faithfully executed." The government countered that states don't really have a right to judicial review in these kinds of matters, and the government has always had very wide discretion over immigration. And this amounts to using their prosecutorial discretion. Basically what the court found in their decision is that the pass is not the -- policy is not the same as prosecutorial discretion T. Forces states to change their policies or incur some costs, and the government doesn't have a right to a stay of an injunction. In other words it's really important to note that this was just about the injunction. It's not about the merits. So the case goes forward, we'll have a merits hearing, the first on July 5th. But this case would be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, and it looks like the end is nowhere in sight. Maureen: So the essence of this is that DAPA and the expanded DACA remain on hold. Remind us what these two programs do. Who would qualify and what would the programs allow those people to do legally in the U.S? The expanded DACA was really to be able to make more of the dreamers eligible for the benefit. It was anticipated that it was going to be 1.5 million. And in fact we have about 650,000. And the main thing built expanded DACA, it removed the age limit. You needed to be no more than 31 as of a certain date, and they said we don't care how hold you are as long as you meet the other requirements. Basically trying to capture more people that would have the benefit. DAPA was the one that was going to impact the most people. Four million people. Parents that have U.S. citizen children, or children that have legal status. If they arrive here, as of January 1st of 2010, they don't have a criminal record that disqualifies them. And they would be able to get basically the same benefit as DACA. Deferred action, a work permit, they could probably be extended every two or three years. It's been a disappointing decision. Maureen: Wanted to ask you, you are an immigration attorney. The promise of these programs must have caused a lot of anticipation in the immigrant community. My professional life has really changed as of late since this program got proposed. People have such faith in the system. They like President Obama. They feel that this is the right thing to do for the country. And to protect immigrants from exploitation, get them out of the shadow. And they've continued to ask me, do you think this is going to pass? Can I please pay you, put my name on your list? I want to you represent me. And just to side track this a bit, that's one of the problems we're having. Today I got a phone call. I paid $4,000 to an attorney, and now it didn't pass, will I be able to get my money back? So fraud was always an issue. People that were in proceedings, they were not a priority for the government. They were very optimistic it was going to pass. I have many cases, but one of them mom has no document, of two the kids are U.S. citizens, and two of the kids have DACA. So we have what is called mixed families. If mom and dad don't get the benefit, the U.S. citizens can go back to the parents' home country. And the people that have DACA can stay? It would wreak havoc in such families. And that is the sadness that I feel from the decision yesterday. Now I have to confirm what happened in court yesterday to the hundreds of beam that are going to -- people that are going to be call meeting every single day. What can I do? Is there still hope? Do we throw in the towel? So they're very trying times for me as an attorney, and also for the immigrant population. Maureen:'Ve, I want to go back to what I think is probably the central issue in this case. Although the states claim they could be economically hurt by these programs. The central issue is probably whether or not the president has the authority to change the interpretation of immigration law to this extent. Are legal experts split on this issue? Yeah, there's some gizz division. The main -- some division. The main division is that he issue a directive that would use discretion on a case by case basis, or was this binding? And that gets into the legal history of executive discretion. I think everybody knows at this point that the president has cited all the other presidents who have done this. George H. W. Bush and Ronald Regan, probably the most. But it is true that there's something different about the DACA and the DAPA programs. And that's that they're a little bit more specific and upfront about the criteria. And the reason for that was to make this an orderly process. Maureen: So it wouldn't be necessarily on a case by case basis? Well, it's still adjudicated on a case by case basis, but what they did was outline the categories in advance. So ironically by doing something that was designed to uphold the rule of law, to make this not arbitrary, to make it something merit-based, they open themselves up to criticism that they were actually changing the law, even though what they really changed, both technically and a matter of fact is the priortation of deportation. The judge who issued the dissent in the decision today pointed that out. And I think that's a pretty heavy burden for the champions of this lawsuit to overcome. Maureen: When you referenced George W. Bush and Ronald Regan, you were referring to the executive actions that they implemented while president. Almost every president since Eisenhower has used their executive discretion to give people some kind of lawful presence in the United States. Maureen: Now, Lilja, remind us yet president said he made these changes the way he did in the first place. If Congress didn't act on immigration reform, and they haven't acted on immigration reform, why didn't the president just leave the policies the way they were? Well, I think that -- yesterday I heard that Republicans were blaming Obama for not getting the Congress more time to enact immigration reform. So now they're blaming him for jumping the gun and saying well, I'm going to issue this executive action to give some sort of temporary legal status, not permanent, not a path to citizenship. The reason is that Obama had waited and waited and waited. The issue has been on the table and the Congress did not act. And that is the problem. I think I'm almost positive that if Obama had not enacted DACA, and also proposed extended DACA in DAPA, that Congress would have done absolutely nothing. And so he felt that he was compelled to do something for the immigration community. Especially when he promised immigration reform. The problem with presidents making such promises is that it's not up to the president to make the law but to the Congress. And maybe too much faith was placed in Obama that he would be able to negotiate some sort of immigration reform which didn't happen. Maureen: Now you told us, you gave us some of the stories of the people and the situations they're in, waiting to see if anything ever happens with DAPA or this extended DACA program. There are concerns that even if the programs get the green light, the delay will cause a lot of people to have doubts about them and hesitate to sign up. Do you agree? Absolutely, absolutely. Even today, even applying for a driver's license, now since January 1st, undocumented people can apply for driver's licenses. They call me, they said I know that immigration is going to have access to the DMV databases. Is it safe for me to apply? So I ask them about their immigration history. Have you ever been removed from the U.S? Have you ever committed any crime? If they say yes, I say don't go. Don't do it. They will be identified as people without documents. And if they match some fingerprints of some other database from I.C.E., could be knocks on the door. So absolutely. I think people always wait to see. If people go forward, see what happens to them, and then maybe get a lawyer to help them with the case. But yeah, there's a lot of reluctance at this point. Maureen: And you mentioned the amount of deportations that have occurred, Ev Meade, what's the status of deportations now? There is -- basically the policy hasn't changed. They've continued to deport people. And they've continued to prioritize deportation to people who have committed aggravated felonies under U.S. immigration law. I think it's important to note too the way this mechanism has brought people to consider their immigration status. There's a study that shows people who came to information sessions for DACA to learn about whether they were eligible or not, and what it was about, some were on the order of 15% of them realized that they actually might have been eligible for some other relief fund or U.S. immigration law. In other words just the process of screening people and getting people in front of a competent attorney had a positive impact. Maureen: Now, Lilja, before it looked as if this was going to go on and on and these programs were going to be on hold for a while. Was it your advice to advise the officers that they were a candidate for the DAPA or DACA program? Definitely. And I always told them, always have in your possession copies of the birth certificates of your children. And if they ask you how long have you been here, you've been here since 1995, great. You would be prima facie eligible for DAPA. And also addition to that, even without DAPA, mothers with young children and parents who do not have any criminal record that don't pose a threat to society, prosecutorial discretion dictates right now, leave them alone. Let's move onto the criminals. And so there's a lot of cases that are now going forward because as it is, the immigration courts are busting at the seams. And so that was the advice. But I want to follow up with something that EV said, when parents brought the kids to my office for DACA representation, I took the chance to ask them about their immigration status. Has anyone filed an approximation for them -- a petition for them? So I would advise them, if DAPA gets approved, come to see me. So that gave them some hope. Now maybe everyone in the family would have some sort of status. Even if it's not a permanent residence Danny. Maureen: Isn't it better here if you are here illegally to be in the State of California? Here we have enacted a dreamers program, and we have people here illegally can apply for a driver's license. Is this situation a little more stable in California? Certainly more stable than Texas, which is one of the arguments that they're making that even issuing driver's licenses and educating the people about rights is go ing to impose this economic burden on the state. Yes, for certain things, and especially in Los Angeles. Look at the Hispanic population in Los Angeles. Who do you arrest? If droves of people walking down the street -- I would say that Los Angeles is safer in terms of not being detected by Border Patrol or I.C.E. agents than in San Diego. Because we're right next to the border, and we seem to have more resources. But yeah, it depends on where you live. Maureen: What's the status now, what other next legal options the administration has to get this stay overturned? Basically they'll have to wait until the outcome of the merits hearing which is looks like the first one may go against them. And then they'll have to appeal and ultimately appeal to the Supreme Court if they lose in the circuit. Maureen: So years, months? I would anticipate that this would be a minimum of months and probably years. Maureen: Okay then. Well, thank you both for putting a human face on this for us. Thank you both. Thank you. Thanks.

A federal appeals court ended any hopes Tuesday of President Barack Obama’s immigration actions moving forward this month, which would have saved millions of people from deportation.

The judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to lift a hold on Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and an expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which went into effect in 2012.

At the heart of the delay is a lawsuit, supported by 26 states, which claims that the new programs will put an economic burden on the states. The lawsuit also claims Obama does not have the authority to make such sweeping changes to immigration enforcement policies.

Ev Meade, director of the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute, said a merits hearing will be held on July 5.

“It looks like the end is nowhere in sight,” Meade told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday. “It could go to the Supreme Court.”

But Meade said Obama’s executive order isn’t unique.

“Almost every president since Eisenhower has used their executive discretion to give people some kind of lawful presence in the United States,” he said.

Lilia Velasquez, an immigration and naturalization attorney and an adjunct professor at California Western School of Law, said Tuesday’s ruling was disappointing for the immigrant community in San Diego.

“(Obama) was compelled to do something for the immigration community, especially when he promised immigration reform,” Velasquez said. “Maybe too much faith was placed in Obama.”