Nearly one year ago President Obama took executive action to protect about 4 million immigrants who have American born children living in the United States. This week, the 5th Court of Appeals upheld the striking down of the program, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), but the Obama Administration intends to take their argument to the Supreme Court.
Predictably, conservative Republicans cheered the news. And, while a lot of the focus has been on their increasingly hostile tone — Governor Abbott’s anti- “sanctuary cities” legislation they support could lead to racial profiling.
The current ruling is based on the premise that the President did not have the authority to take action, but the Department of Justice intends to argue that the policy is intended, ”to bring greater accountability to our immigration system by prioritizing the removal of the worst offenders, not people who have long ties to the United States and who are raising American children,” says Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesman for the U.S. DoJ.
Sheriffs whose county’s contain large urban centers have said that taking a zero tolerance stance on undocumented immigrants has made policing work more difficult as individuals avoid figures of authority for fear of deportation. Local law enforcement depends on building trust within the community to solve crime, but that doesn’t mesh with the hardline taken by statewide elected Republicans in Texas like Governor Abbott who celebrated the ruling as a “victory” for the state.
Just days ago Abbott threatened to withhold grant funding from Sheriff Departments who chose discretion with regards to ICE detainers. He said in a statement, “Beginning now, all CJD grant awards will require that Sheriff’s Departments fully honor ICE’s detention requests for criminal immigrants. Any applicant that cannot certify that their office will honor all ICE detainers for criminal immigrants will be ineligible for CJD funding. Further, any applicant that certifies full compliance with ICE detainer requests—but subsequently fails to honor an ICE detainer—will be subject to claw-back provisions and must refund the full amount of their CJD grant award.”
Abbott wrongly attacked Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez who has taken a moderate approach, striking a deal with ICE to approach Ice detainers on a case by case basis. That move prompted a near immediate applause from the Texas Conservative Coalition who said they were ready to act when the time comes. Valdez is already facing a federal lawsuit over 4th Amendment violations for holding some individuals beyond the point which they have been cleared for release.
Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Carol Donovan issued the following statement:
“Governor Abbott’s threats are misguided and misleading. He fails to acknowledge that ICE has already approved the immigration policy enforced by Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. He also fails to acknowledge that our sheriff is not releasing immigrants who pose a threat.”
As tough as they are, grassroots conservatives aren’t satisfied with the Governor’s words. They want him to use his office to call a special session of the legislature to enact legislation he has put forward to outlaw “sanctuary cities.” Abbott says he looks forward to addressing the issue in 2017, so we’ll just add it to the long list of measures he’s advocated to undermine local control.
By the time of publication, he has not commented on how separating American born children from their parents or denying them birth certificates fits into his pro-“LIFE” initiative.
In the meantime, hundreds of immigrant detainees continue their hunger strike.