A federal judge in Texas may have temporarily blocked President Obama's executive order that shields more people from deportation, but local pro-immigration forces are unfazed.
Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego joined state lawmakers and immigrant-rights groups at the Arizona Capitol today to tell people who are eligible for Obama's deferred-action program not to be discouraged by the ruling, because they don't expect it to be blocked for long.
"Justice has been delayed, but victory is certain," Democratic Senator Martin Quezada said.
Many news reports citing legal observers say the federal government is likely to prevail in its appeal of the ruling. Many on the left have claimed this is simply a political move by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who has a history of public statements on immigration that diverge from Obama's views. Gallego went as far to say today that Hanen is "known as extremist."
"Frivolous lawsuits that are designed basically for political aims, and only political aims, are not the proper use of tax dollars," Gallego said.
For now, the ruling blocks the implementation of the policies announced last year, which include the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as well as a new program that would prevent the deportation of several million undocumented adults who have children with legal status.
Arizona is one of 26 states in on the lawsuit, which originated with the government in Texas, over Obama's order.
However, Gallego added that the ruling "means nothing," as he and others expect the federal government to win on the issue.
There's a fear among the local pro-immigrant groups that people may be discouraged by news of this ruling, but local immigration attorney Ayensa Millan encouraged people to continue to get the necessary documents together and get ready to apply when these programs start accepting applications.
The Migration Policy Institute has estimated that 136,000 people in Arizona could be shielded from deportation under Obama's latest order. That includes 97,000 parents, and an additional 39,000 people who will be eligible for the expanded provisions of the DACA policy. About 66,000 young people in Arizona are eligible to be shielded from deportation under the original DACA provisions, according to the institute.
"It's a shame that we're going to put this kind of shadow over our communities," Gallego said. "All these communities want to do is work legally here, pay their taxes, raise their families, and become part of the social fabric of America."
Several local politicians also called on Governor Doug Ducey to end Arizona's involvement in the lawsuit.
Democratic Representative Juan Mendez said the lawsuit only "jeopardizes Latino trust" in the state's leadership.
Like the local politicos, the White House expects President Obama to prevail on this issue. Below is the statement released by the White House in response to the ruling:
The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws--which is exactly what the President did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken immigration system. Those policies are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws.
The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts, and the district court in Washington, D.C. have determined that the President's actions are well within his legal authority. Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe. 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.
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