Guest Post: Judge Hanen’s Decision on Immigration Will Affect Millions of Families

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Thanks to the folks at Alliance for Citizenship for this guest post on the immigration ruling in Texas this week. All members of our community are encouraged to submit user posts. — Eds.

When Brownsville Judge Andrew Hanen ruled this week against the executive action case brought on by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the result wasn’t some theoretical point against executive powers and President Obama’s actions.  It was a blow to some 5 million undocumented mothers, fathers, neighbors, and family members — people who were preparing to be able to legally work and drive, but who will now be forced to wait weeks or months more.

Take Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who outed himself as undocumented to the New York Times in 2011 and has since founded the advocacy group Define American.  Jose is too old, by several months, to qualify for 2012’s deferred action for DREAMers (DACA) program, but he would have qualified for the expanded DACA that was to start taking applications today.  In a press call today, he revealed how he’s spent the last several months preparing for his DACA+ application, collecting everything from his grade school immunization card from 2003; his middle, high school, and college diplomas; and documents of every apartment he’s lived in since he was a teenager.

Jose is emblematic of the immigrants who have spent so much of their lives in the US and contributed so much to this country.  Yet Republicans — via votes in Congress as well as this case winding its way through the courts — keep trying to deport millions like him.  Their actions will have significant consequences for them as a party, as 2016 is coming up and the GOP will have to answer for their antagonism to Latino voters.  But it has significant consequences for people like Jose as well.  Without papers, Jose is unable to leave the US, which means he has not seen his mother (who lives in the Philippines) since he was 21.  He was looking forward to receiving his DACA+ papers in the spring or summer and being able to visit her.  For now, that plan must be postponed.

It’s unclear why Republicans are so antagonistic to executive action, considering that the program makes the country safer by prioritizing criminal immigrants for immediate deportation.  That’s why the police like it — because it allows them to do their jobs in immigrant communities where people might not talk to them if doing so puts them at risk of removal.  As Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez said on our press call today:

The community is hesitant to report crime when they think they will be negatively affected by reporting the crime….Having to push people back into the shadows is going to damage our community. Law enforcement likes to know who is here … and if people are hiding in the shadows, it’s hard to distinguish between those who are harmful and not.

And executive action is good for the economy — in fact, Texas itself is slated to gain $338 million in additional tax revenue over the next five years, if executive action is implemented.

And it will be implemented.  While this week’s ruling from Judge Hanen is a bump in the road, it is neither a dead end or a detour.  Executive action was a major victory for the community when it was announced last year, and the community will continue to fight until it’s implemented.  As Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream said today:

Our community has already won and this baseless Republican lawsuit is just another desperate attempt to delay the inevitable. Many United We Dream members are ready to apply today and our parents, including my mother are preparing to apply soon.  The White House must immediately file an emergency stay in this case — our community and our country are tired of these political games and have waited long enough.

One of the next steps will be on the Obama Administration, which needs to act fast and file an emergency appeal of Hanen’s decision.  Otherwise, Jose, Cristina’s parents, and millions of other immigrants could be waiting in limbo for years.


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