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January 2016

Supreme Court & Obama’s Order

Supreme Court to review Obama’s power on deportation policy

Article from “The Washington Post”

Immigrants and their supporters with the group “We Are CASA” protest planned raids to deport illegal immigrants during a rally in Lafayette Park next to the White House in December. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
By Robert Barnes and Juliet Eilperin January 19 at 8:07 PM – The Washington Post

The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will consider whether President Obama exceeded his powers in trying to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, stepping into one of the most contentious topics in the nation’s political debate.

A positive ruling from the justices would provide Obama his last chance before leaving office to protect more than 4 million people who are parents of citizens or of lawful permanent residents and allow them to “come out from the shadows” to work legally, as he put it when announcing the program in November 2014. The initiative was challenged by 26 states and has been blocked by lower courts.

The Supreme Court will find itself once again reviewing a top priority of the Obama administration; in dramatic, high-profile cases, the court twice has saved the president’s Affordable Care Act from conservative legal challenges.

This time, the justices will confront the fundamental tension of the Obama years: whether the president is using the substantial powers of his office to propel the nation past political gridlock or whether he has ignored constitutional boundaries to unilaterally impose prescriptions that require congressional approval.

The court amped up the legal importance of the case by adding a constitutional question: whether Obama’s actions violated the “take care” clause, which commands the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

In vowing to aggressively use executive action to counter congressional inaction on his priorities, Obama has caused his greatest confrontations with Republicans and led them to claim that he disregards the Constitution.

The new case adds yet another controversy to a Supreme Court docket this term that already includes abortion rights, affirmative action and the rights of religious objectors to not provide employees with contraceptive coverage. Most or all of those decisions will land in June, just before Republicans and Democrats officially choose their nominees to succeed Obama.

The president’s immigration program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), has split the presidential candidates. Republicans have said they would reverse it immediately if it ever took effect. Democratic hopefuls have said they would expand upon it.

It would allow illegal immigrants in the affected categories to remain in the country and apply for work permits if they have been here at least five years and have not committed felonies or repeated misdemeanors.

The administration says the program is a way for a government with limited resources to prioritize which illegal immigrants it will move first to deport. As a practical matter, the government has never deported more than 500,000 undocumented immigrants per year and often sends home far fewer than that.

But Texas and 25 other Republican-led states sued to stop the initiative, and a federal district judge in Texas and then a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit said the program could not be implemented.
Obama’s immigration plan, by the numbers

President Obama announced new action to delay the deportation of about 4 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Here are some numbers to know about immigration. (Julie Percha/The Washington Post)

The states said that the program “would be one of the largest changes in immigration policy in our nation’s history” and that it raised major issues involving the separation of powers and federalism.

“DAPA is a crucial change in the Nation’s immigration law and policy — and that is precisely why it could be created only by Congress, rather than unilaterally imposed by the Executive,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said in a filing to the court.

The Obama administration had urged the court to accept the case in time to hear it during the current term, and White House officials said they were confident their side would prevail.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama’s actions were “clearly within the confines of his authority as president of the United States.”

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in the legal arguments that we’ll be making before the court,” Earnest said, adding that the administration has not only a legal case to make but also a policy argument about “the practical impact, the positive impact” of the executive actions “on the security of communities across the country.”

The administration contends that the states have no legal standing to sue because it is up to the federal government to set immigration policy and that the Department of Homeland Security did not violate federal statutes in devising the program.

The government’s decision to set priorities about whom to deport was a practical response to financial constraints, the administration says. Congress has given it enough money to deport no more than about 400,000 of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, according to the government.

In the administration’s petition to the court, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said that the lower courts had ignored “established limits on the judicial power. If left undisturbed, [the rulings] will allow States to frustrate the federal government’s enforcement of the Nation’s immigration laws.”

Verrilli said that if not reversed, the rulings “will force millions of people — who are not removal priorities under criteria the court conceded are valid, and who are parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents — to continue to work off the books, without the option of lawful employment to provide for their families.”

The administration has challenged Texas’s legal standing to sue. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen agreed with the state that, because it would face a financial cost in providing driver’s licenses to those covered by the new program, it had standing to challenge the initiative. The administration countered that Texas was not required to issue the licenses. It should not be able to injure itself, Verrilli argued, to achieve standing to sue.

In the appeals court decision, U.S. Circuit Judge Jerry Smith rejected the administration’s argument that DAPA was a form of “prosecutorial discretion” in which a government with limited resources sets priorities for enforcement.

The program, Smith wrote, “is much more than nonenforcement: It would affirmatively confer ‘lawful presence’ and associated benefits on a class of unlawfully present aliens. Though revocable, that change in designation would trigger” eligibility for federal and state benefits “that would not otherwise be available to illegal aliens.”

The administration has made clear that it will rely heavily on a 2012 Supreme Court decision that struck down parts of an Arizona law restricting immigration and that said “the removal process is entrusted to the discretion of the federal government.”

Verrilli, in his petition to the Supreme Court, also disputed the lower court’s ruling that the DHS secretary had exceeded his authority in issuing “guidance” about how to treat the illegal immigrants.

Under the appeals court’s reasoning, Verrilli said, immigration laws allow the secretary to decide that individuals may remain in the country for a period of time but bar him “from enabling them to work lawfully to support themselves and their families while they are here. Congress did not constrain the secretary’s broad discretion to such half-measures.”

Even as Earnest, the White House press secretary, highlighted support for the administration’s position — noting that “there are other states and the District of Columbia that have filed paperwork indicating they strongly support implementation of these executive actions” — he acknowledged that it is unclear how much of the program could be implemented before Obama leaves office.

Since every Republican vying for the party’s presidential nomination has voiced opposition to Obama’s plan, Earnest observed that only Congress could deliver a lasting solution to the question of illegal immigration in the United States, since “executive actions can be reversed by subsequent presidents.”

The case is United States v. Texas.

David Nakamura contributed to this report.

Robert Barnes has been a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987. He has covered the Supreme Court since November 2006.
Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post’s White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.


Travel & Immigration Status

For Global Law Advocates Newsletter: GLA Newsletter – January, 2016

“Travel Tips for Immigrants in the United States”

This article is courtesy of Margaret O’Donnell, Attorney at Law

Many immigrants in the United States have questions about whether and how they can travel. This newsletter article will give some general tips on this topic for different types of immigration status.

Undocumented: If you do not have any legal status in the U.S., you should not travel outside of the U.S. If you have emergency situation outside the US, you should consult with an immigration attorney about immigration consequences before arranging travel outside of the country. Depending on your specific circumstances, leaving the U.S. can make you ineligible to apply for certain immigration statuses. Some immigrants find that they meet all other requirements for, say, gaining legal residence through their spouse, but discover that they cannot do so because they took a trip outside thei country.

Although traveling within the U.S. does not have the same potential effects on your ability to apply for immigration status, you should never travel anywhere by plane if you are undocumented. It is generally a risky thing to do, due to heightened security in airports.
Lawful permanent resident: If you have lawful permanent residence, you are free to enter and leave the U.S. at will. However, one of the requirements to maintain your residence is that you live in the US. If you are out of the US more than six months at a time, you may be presumed to have abandoned your US residence. So for example, traveling to Mexico for three one-month trips in one year is fine (three months total outside of the U.S.), but traveling there for a six month and two day trip may jeopardize your residence status. It’s best, if you know you will be gone for more than six months at a time, to request a re-entry document from USCIS in advance of your trip, and show the reasons for such a stay.
Other types of immigration status: If you have a status other than lawful permanent residence, such as Temporary Protected Status, DACA or a U Visa, you should consult with an immigration attorney before traveling to check if and how you are able to travel. For example, with DACA, you can apply for Advance Parole and visit a foreign country for a short period of time if you have certain specific reasons to do so, such as a sick relative.

U.S. Citizen: If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen, you are free to travel outside of the U.S. whenever and for as long as you want. However, you should keep in mind that other countries have their own requirements for any foreigners visiting, studying, working and living there. A good place to find general information about travel to other countries is at the U.S. State Department’s website:

Sugerencias de viaje para los inmigrantes en los EE.UU.

Muchos inmigrantes en los Estados Unidos tienen dudas sobre si y cómo pueden viajar. Este boletín le dará algunos consejos generales sobre este tema para los diferentes tipos de estatus migratorio.
Indocumentados: Si usted no tiene ningún estatus legal en los EE.UU., no debe viajar fuera de los EE.UU.
Si usted tiene situación de emergencia fuera de los EE.UU., usted debe consultar con un abogado de inmigración acerca de las consecuencias de inmigración antes de planear viajar fuera del país. Dependiendo de sus circunstancias específicas, el salir de los EE.UU. puede hacerle inelegible para aplicar para ciertos procesos de inmigración. Algunos inmigrantes se enteran de que cumplen con todos los requisitos para, por ejemplo, la obtención de la residencia legal a través de su cónyuge, pero después resulta que no pueden hacerlo porque realizaron un viaje fuera del país.
Aunque viajar dentro de los EE.UU. no tiene los mismos efectos potenciales sobre la oportunidad para solicitar un estatus de inmigración, nunca debe viajar en avión si usted es indocumentado. En general, tiene alto riesgo, debido a que hay mayor seguridad en los aeropuertos.

Residente permanente legal: Si usted tiene la residencia permanente legal, usted es libre de entrar y salir de los EE.UU. a su voluntad. Sin embargo, uno de los requisitos para mantener su residencia es que usted viva en los EE.UU. Si usted está fuera de los EE.UU. más de seis meses a la vez, es posible que se considere que ha abandonado su residencia en Estados Unidos. Así, por ejemplo, viajar a México durante tres viajes de un mes en un año está bien (que sería estar fuera del país tres meses en total), pero el ir a un viaje de seis meses y dos días, eso puede poner en peligro su estatus de residencia. Si usted sabe que va a estar ausente por más de seis meses a la vez, es mejor solicitar un documento de reingreso por parte de USCIS antes de su viaje, y mostrar las razones de una estancia.

Otros tipos de estatus migratorio: Si usted tiene un estatus que no sea la residencia legal permanente, como Estatus de Protección Temporal, DACA o una visa U, usted debe consultar con un abogado de inmigración antes de viajar para comprobar si usted es elegible para viajar. Por ejemplo, con la DACA, usted puede solicitar el Advance Parole y visitar otro país durante un corto período de tiempo si usted tiene ciertas razones específicas para hacerlo, como por ejemplo un pariente enfermo.
Ciudadano de los EEUU: Si usted es un ciudadano estadounidense naturalizado, usted es libre de viajar fuera de los EE.UU. en cualquier momento y durante todo el tiempo que desee. Sin embargo, debe tener en cuenta que otros países tienen sus propios requisitos para extranjeros que van de visita, a estudiar, trabajar o vivir. Un buen sitio para encontrar información general sobre viajes a otros países, se en el sitio web del Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos:

Global Law Advocates, PLLC 2015

Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund

The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund for people active in movements for social and economic justice.

Scholarship Type: Need-based scholarships

Eligibility: College or trade/technical program students who are also active in progressive movements. These include the struggle against forms of oppression such as racism, sexism and homophobia and/or those working towards economic justice.

US Citizenship Requirement: None!

Scholarship Amount: Maximum is $10,000 per year (from July 1 through June 30).

 Applications must be postmarked no later than April 1. Applicants will be informed of decisions in July.

For more information and application, visit the Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund website.

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