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Can You Feel The Immigration Truce?

– Posted in: The Obama Years

Immigration reform, I thought, meant a path to political peace.

Instead, there’s ground fire here, there, everywhere.

It’s not exactly the War of the Worlds. But it’s clear the two opposing forces – those for and those against reform – continue to brace for the upcoming legislative battle in Congress.

So, as an immigration lawyer in Riverside watching the news over the past few days, I’ve asked myself, “Can you feel the truce?”

  • Religious leaders move to the forefront in seeking immigration reform. Political leaders tell them they’re on the same page, but need time to think about the current proposals.
  • One of the political insiders tells the press that the proposal will be unveiled this week. Then it’s not.
  • Immigration leaders host a summit and decry the Gang of Eight’s proposals. They point out missing issues.
  • Local immigrant rights advocates claim, during this “cooling off” period, deportation officers are still apprehending innocent folks.
  • Meanwhile, deportation officers sue their employer, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, for requesting that they not apprehend innocent folks.

Just another typical week for immigration reform news.  So to keep things straight, here is our curated immigration news summary.

Will The Role Of Religious Leaders Influence The Outcome Of The Current Immigration Reform Debate?

Local Clergy Asks For Cook’s Support On Immigration Reform
(The High Desert Daily Press)

For many years, local religious leaders like Bishop Rutilio del Riego, auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino have openly supported changes to our immigration system.

Such efforts were unable to persuade elected officials. The results may be different this time.

Earlier this month, as part of a broad faith-based coalition urging reluctant elected officials to support a pathway to citizenship for immigrant families, 10 High Desert Catholic clergy met with Republican Congressman Paul Cook earlier this week to share their concerns.

Afterwards, Rev. Delwyn Haroldson of Our Lady of the Desert in Apple Valley noted, “The congressman sees eye-to-eye with us that the most important thing is the dignity of people, the brotherhood of humanity and the unity of families.”

I’m not convinced.

When Will We See A Real Immigration Reform Proposal?

Schumer Sees Deal On Immigration Reform This Week
(San Bernardino Sun)

At the beginning of the week, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., appearing on “Face the Nation” noted that despite missing an earlier self-imposed deadline, he anticipated an immigration reform package would be ready by this week. Well, another week has passed.

According to the San Bernardino Sun, a raucous public debate over the nation’s flawed immigration system is set to begin in earnest this week as senators finalize a bipartisan bill to secure the border, allow tens of thousands of foreign workers into the country and grant eventual citizenship to the estimated 11 million people living here illegally.

In reality, the new article’s headline was misleading. Schumer said he hoped the legislation would be ready this week. He did not say with certainty it would be formally introduced this week.

Flaws In The Current Immigration Reform Proposal

Inland Groups Differ With Senate Immigration Reform Proposal
(Riverside Press Enterprise)

Riverside Press Enterprise reporter David Olson recently blogged about an immigration summit organized by the California Immigrant Policy Center.

He reported the summit demonstrated strong opposition to the Gang Of Eight’s current immigration reform proposal.

It’s nice to learn that immigrant rights advocates are not falling in line with short-sighted and politically-motivated changes. However, getting the word to an unsuspecting public is not an easy task.

The summit leaders’ position centered on five principles:

  • A path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that should not include long wait periods.
  • The inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in family reunification policies.
  • An end to the involvement of local law-enforcement agencies in immigration enforcement.
  • Restrictions on sanctions against employers who hire undocumented immigrants.
  • An end to the reliance on cruel and costly detention as a cornerstone of immigration enforcement.

My hat’s off to the summit organizers.

The Call For A Deportation And Removal Moratorium

Immigration: Deportation Protests Escalating
(The Riverside Press Enterprise)

While immigration reform is being discussed behind closed doors in Washington, the lives of many immigrant families are destroyed during the wait.

The deportation machinery continues to arrest immigrant laborers without evidence they are undocumented immigrants.

Meanwhile, there is no indication that reform talks include fixing our broken deportation and detention systems.

Jose Daniel Guzman, legal resources coordinator for Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California, said he has received repeated reports of Border Patrol agents stopping Latino construction and gardening workers in parking lots.

“They’re going after the low-hanging fruit, not the hard-to-catch criminals,” Guzman said.

It’s no small wonder why Riverside and San Bernardino community organizers have increased their efforts to persuade the Obama Adminstration to impose a moratorium on the detention and deportation of low-priority, non-serious criminal offenders, at least until the newest round of immigration reform debate ends.

Of course, since it’s the Obama Administration, which has set all-time deportation records, the demonstrators have an uphill battle getting heard.


Judge Hears Arguments In Lawsuit Challenging Deferred Action Program

From the outset, I’ve had doubts about the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Those doubts primarily centered on two issues.

The first issue is the dead-end nature of DACA. What happens if and when the program is terminated?

Second, I questioned the willingness of immigration law enforcement agencies to go along with the program. I urged caution to my colleagues, most of whom did not want to sacrifice earning a few dollars.

Although the matter is far from settled, it’s clear my fears about the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were not far-fetched.

This past week, ten ICE agents challenged the program in court.

Having filed a lawsuit in August against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, they seek to block her order compelling them to refrain from detaining or deporting undocumented youth who may qualify for DACA benefits.

The ICE agents suing argue the directive keeps them from enforcing federal immigration laws that require them to initiate removal proceedings against all immigrants who entered the country illegally. They also say they risk losing their jobs if they don’t follow the directive.

The lead attorney representing the plaintiffs is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of Arizona’s tough immigration law. Kobach argues in court documents that the June 15 directive “commands ICE officers to violate their oaths to uphold and support federal law.”

“This lawsuit seeks to prevent law enforcement officer plaintiffs from being forced to either violate federal law if they comply with the unlawful directive or risk adverse employment action if they disobey the unlawful orders of the DHS secretary.”

Most legal analysts assert the ICE court challenge will fail. As a lawyer, I learned long ago, never assume an outcome.

By , Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics