- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 30, 2017

Immigrant rights advocates are urging a federal judge to close out a court case before Texas can use it to nix the Obama-era amnesty that’s currently protecting nearly 800,000 illegal immigrant Dreamers.

While the Trump administration is still trying to decide what to do about the Obama amnesty, known in Washington as DACA, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund has taken up the case.

MALDEF told Judge Andrew S. Hanen that even though he has ruled against a broader amnesty, implemented by President Obama in 2014 and known as DAPA, he cannot now expand the case to include the original DACA amnesty, created in 2012.

“DACA was in place over two years before the 2014 DAPA memorandum [was] issued. Plaintiffs could have challenged it when they filed suit in December 2014, yet they instead chose to file suit only against the DAPA memorandum,” MALDEF said in its latest filing.

“The original 2012 DACA itself is not at issue here,” the group’s lawyers said.

They said both Judge Hanen and Texas repeatedly agreed during two years of legal argument that the case only tangentially dealt with Dreamers.

They pointed to a Jan. 15, 2015, statement by Texas’ lawyer, who said flatly that the state was “not challenging the DACA program.”

Judge Hanen in 2015 ruled the broader DAPA amnesty a violation of federal procedural laws. An appeals court upheld his injunction, ruling DAPA also broke immigration law.

The Supreme Court last year deadlocked 4-4 on the case, leaving the injunction in place.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has now said that if DAPA is illegal, so is DACA, which rests on the same basic legal claims of executive flexibility in enforcing immigration law. He has given the Trump administration until early September to phase out the program, or else he said he will ask Judge Hanen to invalidate it.

The DAPA program would have applied to perhaps 4 million illegal immigrant parents with U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident children. It would have offered a temporary year stay of deportation and granted work permits, entitling illegal immigrants to Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses and some taxpayer benefits.

The DACA program offered the same benefits but to some 800,000 young adult illegal immigrants, known as Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Homeland Security has revoked the DAPA policy, but has said it would keep the DACA policy in place — though Secretary John F. Kelly has said legal experts told him the policy is likely to be found illegal should the issue reach the decision stage in court.

Activists have struggled to refute the legal questions, but insist Mr. Trump should fight to preserve the program anyway for the sake of Dreamers.

 

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