When 52,000 children crossed the Southern U.S border in a matter of nine months, President Obama was confronted with a push towards immigration reform.
“Maybe I’ll be deported, some of my children can be deported and others we love could be deported,“ said Maria Cruz Ramirez – illegal immigrant for thirteen years and mother of three DREAMers – to Jose Diaz-Balart on The Rundown this past summer.
With Obama’s executive action on immigration, over five million people would be shielded from deportation. A couple of million people who would receive work permits and children wouldn’t have to be torn away from their parents. All of those possibilities that were at the touch of a fingertip are once again, a mere fantasy.
The Obama administration hit a roadblock on February 16, when a federal judge in Texas, Andrew S. Hanen, halted Obama’s executive action regarding immigration. The application processes for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) were set to open on February 20, but have been put on hold until a court ruling.
DACA serves to give youth who came to the United States as children and their parents temporary permission to stay in the U.S, called “deferred action.” DAPA, which essentially extends DACA, was created to make parents of U.S citizens and lawful permanent residents also eligible for deferred action.
The judge’s ruling set back the Obama administration’s plans on immigration reform and set forth a lawsuit filed by 26 Republican-run states claiming that Obama has overstepped his authority with this use of executive action. Hanen said that the administration’s programs would impose major burdens on states – unleash illegal immigration and straining state budgets – and that the administration had not followed required procedures for changing federal rules.
A week afterward, on February 23, the Obama administration retaliated with a move to reverse the federal judge’s order. An appeal was filed in a Brownsville, Texas court where the government urged the U.S District Judge to lift his own injunction and allow the President’s immigration initiatives to proceed. The administration also asked Hanen to stay his own order as a message of urgency while the government appealed his ruling.
Texas Assistant Attorney General Angela Colmenero argued that the case isn’t as urgent as they presented, considering they waited a week to file an appeal. She commented that the 26 states should have at least a week to respond to the administration and so the appeal wouldn’t be answered until the next Monday, the earliest.
Obama expressed confidence that he would prevail in the legal battle to defend his signature domestic policy achievement. Immigration advocates who have been pressing for quick action also announced they would push to put the waivers back on track.
“The law is on our side, and history is on our side,” said the President to reporters in the Oval Office.