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NIJC Rejects Texas Court Ruling, Will Support Federal Government’s Appeal and Continue Community Outreach

Statement by Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is deeply disappointed by last night’s decision by a federal district court in Brownsville, Texas, to issue a preliminary injunction to delay the Obama administration’s new deferred action programs that would have begun tomorrow.  NIJC joined an amicus brief in the case based on the strong legal precedent in support of the administration’s authority to initiate these programs and is frustrated by the community confusion and deferred economic boon the court’s decision generates.

The Obama administration is expected to appeal the court’s ruling, which was in response to a lawsuit filed by 26 states seeking to block the November 2014 expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and a new program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). With great confidence that the Brownsville decision will be overturned, NIJC will continue to assist immigrants with readying their applications and will make clear to the community that the court’s decision has no bearing on renewals of the original DACA program commenced in 2012 or the administration’s decisions about immigration enforcement and detention under its newly revised enforcement priorities.

Now millions of people—including hundreds of thousands in Illinois—must continue waiting to apply for temporary status to live and work in the U.S. with their families without fear of deportation.  Families and communities are desperate for relief from the fear of deportation they face every day under our country’s broken immigration system. DACA already has improved the lives of thousands of our country’s youth since it was first implemented in 2012—it is disappointing that we now face an undetermined wait before our society will be able to reap the benefits of an expansion of this temporary relief.

Public Opinion Supports Reform of Immigration Laws

A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that nearly three quarters of Americans support the executive action programs and think that passing a comprehensive immigration reform law should be a higher priority for Congress. Republican members of Congress, including Illinois Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), have begun to back away from Republican attempts to derail the programs by threatening Department of Homeland Security appropriations. Studies have shown that the benefits of giving millions of people relief from the threat of deportation would extend far beyond immigrant communities.

According to recent findings from the President's Council of Economic Advisers, the immigration executive action programs would grow the U.S. economy by $90 billion to $210 billion over the next 10 years. In Illinois, about 280,000 people would be eligible to obtain work permits and temporary relief from the threat of deportation, which means they would pay taxes and contribute to the state’s economy to the tune of an estimated $3.8 billion increase in the state's GDP over the next 10 years. Allowing these individuals to work legally would boost the average wage for all U.S.-born workers – in Illinois and across the country – by $170 a year.

Despite Delay, NIJC Will Continue to Help Communities Prepare

The original DACA program revealed the importance of providing individuals who do not believe themselves eligible for legal status the opportunity to step forward and seek legal screenings. A 2014 Center for Migration Studies survey of immigration legal service providers found that 14.3 percent of DACA-screened unauthorized immigrants were potentially eligible for more permanent immigration benefits which could put them on path to lawful permanent residence and citizenship.

NIJC will continue to provide legal information sessions through partnerships with the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Illinois is Ready campaign, the Southwest Organizing Project, the Michiana Immigration Coalition, and schools and faith groups throughout the Chicagoland area and Indiana.

For a calendar of upcoming free NIJC administrative relief information sessions, visit immigrantjustice.org/adminrelief/calendar. To request a free information session at a school or community organization in Illinois or Michiana visit immigrantjustice.org/adminrelief/infosessions.

NIJC also continues to hold free clinics for individuals applying for or renewing their status under the original DACA program. To register for a DACA clinic, visit immigrantjustice.org/adminrelief/calendarhttp://immigrantjustice.org/adminrelief/calendar.