Arkansas immigrant rights advocates: “Its only a temporary setback”

Celebration among Republican ranks and deep disappointment in the immigrant community.
A federal judge blocked Obama’s executive actions from going into effect, a move immigration reform advocates are calling only a “temporary setback.”

Texas U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a temporary injunction on Monday, February 16, siding with Texas and 25 other states that signed on to a lawsuit against Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The White House announced that the Department of Justice is appealing the decision.
The ruling pushes back the start date for millions of immigrants workers to come forward, register, and apply for work permits, which was planned to begin as soon as February 18, 2015, for DREAMers.

It means that until the ruling is blocked or overturned by a higher court -- individuals will not be able to apply for the new programs announced by President Obama on Nov. 20, 2014. These include the expanded version of DACA, which was slated to start Wednesday, and the new program for parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which was expected to start in May. Together the programs could protect over 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and provide them with temporary work authorization.

Monday’s ruling does not affect so-called Dreamers, who can still apply for (and renew) DACA under the program that was announced in 2012.
“Immigrants in Arkansas are moving forward regardless of ruling, and will continue getting ready for the deferred action programs that will give thousands of Arkansans the chance to live, work, and stay in our great state with their families,” said Mireya Reith, Executive Director of Arkansas United Community Coalition (AUCC).

“This is just the first round in a long, drawn out legal process. Hundreds of legal scholars agree that the President's executive action on immigration are constitutional and within his authority. We are confident that the court system will eventually reject this meritless lawsuit that only wastes taxpayer dollars, confuses and ultimately disenfranchises immigrant workers and families, and robs much needed revenue from our state economy,” indicated Reith.

There are at least 60,000 undocumented immigrants living in Arkansas, and approximately 30,000 immigrants would be eligible for one of the deferred action programs. Enabling these immigrants to register with the government, request a reprieve from removal, and apply for a temporary work permit would could lead to an estimated 8.5 percent increase in earnings for qualifying immigrants, which would mean increased sales tax revenue for local and state coffers, as the demand for goods and services rises, more jobs would be created, and an increase in wages for all Arkansans, according to the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.

According to Mayor Mark Stodola, City of Little Rock, “The outcome of this case affects tens thousands of real Arkansas families, I applaud and support the 33 mayors who, on January 28 of this year, filed an amicus brief, along with the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, in support of the deferred action programs. Last night’s preliminary injunction preventing all these immigrants the opportunity to more fully integrate and continue contributing to their communities would most assuredly harm cities, like Little Rock, and is not in the public interest.”

Humberto Marquez is a DREAMer from Waldron who benefitted from President Obama’s first executive action in June 2012, and as a result of the program will be graduating this year with a business degree from the University of Arkansas in Fort Smith, meanwhile working two jobs, and looks forward to seeking employment with Northwest Arkansas’ premier businesses next year. Marquez demonstrates the direct and immediate benefits that these programs have on the Arkansas economy.

Arkansas United Community Coalition (AUCC) urges the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to take up this case immediately because thousands of Arkansans, like Humberto Marquez, stand ready to apply for the new programs and want to come forward to live and work in the state they proudly call home. Hundreds of immigrants from across Arkansas will be taking proactive steps this week to get ready to apply for deferred action. AUCC will continue to do educational events.

For more information visit, ArkansasCoalition.org or Hola-Arkansas.com

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