Immigration reform advocates in Connecticut have rallied behind President Obama’s extended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival directives, calling a federal judge’s last minute move to block implementation as misguided and not legally defensible. Moreover, they have decried the ruling and the lawsuit by Texas and 25 other states — exclusive of Connecticut — as part of a scheme by anti-immigrant Republicans to heighten deportation fears among undocumented aliens.
Groups such as Connecticut Citizens for A Dream, the National Council for La Raza and the Hispanic Federation quickly responded to Judge Andrew Hanen’s injunction issued late Monday in Texas by urging those newly eligible to receive work permits and deferred action status on deportation to continue preparation to apply while the Obama administration seeks to have the judge’s injunction removed.
“The court’s decision is outside of the legal mainstream,” said New Haven’s Kica Matos, who is director for immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Community Change, a national organization based in Washington, D.C. She added, “Legal scholars, lawyers and immigration experts alike strongly agree the president’s actions are legal. Judge Hanen’s ruling is deplorable and nothing more than a political stunt orchestrated by the anti-immigration faction of the GOP.”
A similar perspective was offered by Lucas Codognolla, a coordinator for Connecticut Citizens for a Dream. What the lawsuit represents “is part of a Republican strategy to create a narrative that our community should be scared,” he said.
Wednesday, February 18, was to be the first day that thousands of undocumented immigrants who arrived in this country under the age of 16 before 2010 could submit documentation under the 2014 directives set up through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. By applying through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the eligible immigrants would begin a process that would grant them work authorizations and “deprioritize” or defer action that could lead to deportation. Instead, due to the judge’s ruling, Matos and several other immigration advocates gathered at city hall in New Haven for a quickly assembled roundtable with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal to discuss what could be done ensure implementation of the expanded DACA.
They also were concerned that the injunction also blocks the Deferred Action for Parental Responsibility, a presidential directive scheduled to go into effect in May, giving “deferred action” status to qualifying undocumented immigrant parents whose children are citizens or lawful permanent residents.
The fear issue was underscored at the round table by Unidad Latina en Accion, a New Haven-based immigrant advocacy group, that brought families that are affected by the delay. “They shared stories and their anxieties over the delay,” Matos said.
At their discussion, immigration reform advocates said that Blumenthal and other members of the state’s congressional delegation should help overcome immigrant’s nervousness by aiding efforts to encourage them to move forward with preparing to file applications when, as they expect, the process resumes.
Within hours of the Hanen ruling, the National Council for La Raza quickly sent out a message to its various state representatives, such as Yanil Teron in Hartford, that they should treat the Texas judge’s move as temporary, that it will be overturned and does not effect thos already protected under DACA or eligible for the two-year permits issued by the 2012 implementation.
“In the meantime, do your part to make sure that our community is well-informed and that those who are likely eligible for expanded DACA and DAPA continue preparing to apply,” said Laura Vazquez, NCLR senior immigration policy analyst.
Codognolla is a Stamford resident who arrived in this country at age 9 in 2000. Under the 2012 DACA policy, immigrants such as Codognolla who were illegally brought into the country before their 16th birthday, had lived in the United States continuously since June 15, 2007 can obtain a work permit that is renewable every two years. Other requirements include that the applicant must be under age 31 on June 15, 2012, graduate from high school or be honorably discharged from the armed services, and have stayed out of trouble with the law.
In November 2014, Obama issued an executive order, to the chagrin of Republican leaders in Congress, that expanded DACA to include illegal immigrants who entered the country before 2010, eliminated the requirement that applicants be younger than 31 years old, and lengthened the renewable deferral period to three years. The Pew Research Center estimated that this would increase the number of eligible people by about 330,000 including several thousand in Connecticut.
The implementation of Deferred Action for Parental Responsibility would affect nearly 4 million immigrants according to the Immigrant Policy Institute.
Bill Sarno CTLatinoNews