Despite Stay, Houston Prepares For Immigration Action

For recent immigrant communities across the United States, what happened this week is an all-too familiar song and dance:  take two steps forward, and two steps back.  Just hours before President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration were set to take effect, they have encountered a judicial road block.  Here’s more from Michael D. Shear and Julia Preston of the New York Times

WASHINGTON — One day before hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants were to begin applying for work permits and legal protection, administration officials on Tuesday postponed President Obama’s sweeping executive actions on immigration indefinitely, saying they had no choice but to comply with a federal judge’s last-minute order halting the programs.

[…]

In a decision late Monday, Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Brownsville, ruled in favor of Texas and 25 other states that had challenged Mr. Obama’s immigration actions. The judge said that the administration’s programs would impose major burdens on states, unleashing illegal immigration and straining state budgets, and that the administration had not followed required procedures for changing federal rules.

Upon hearing news of Judge Hanen’s stay, Republican Congressional leaders across the country immediately championed the decision.  You know… those same Republican Congressional leaders that continue to criticize President Obama for trying to do something sensible about Immigration, but won’t lift a finger in Congress to pass comprehensive reform themselves.  If you’re thinking this whole situation screams of ultimate hypocrisy, you’d be correct.

Same goes for Texas Governor Greg Abbott, whom referred to the Obama Administration’s plan as “Executive Amnesty”.  As the Burnt Orange Report points out, it seems that the Governor would rather have Texas families torn apart than do something sensible.

But even with the temporary setback, Houston city leaders are working hard to ensure that the process of helping hundreds of thousands of people come out of the shadows can move forward as soon as possible.  Today after the weekly City Council Meeting, the Mayor unveiled new resources designed to help families stay up to date with the latest Immigration Action developments.  Here’s that information via the City of Houston press release…

Houston Mayor Annise Parker today announced the launch of a new informational website for immigrants who are interested in applying for citizenship or deferred action.  The new website is the product of a partnership between the City’s Department of Neighborhoods Office of International Communities (OIC) and the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative (HILSC).  The partnership was established last December in response to President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

“We formed this partnership with one simple goal in mind—to make sure that Houston is prepared for the implementation of the President’s executive order,” said Mayor Parker.  “I am certain the recent court order delaying implementation of the President’s order will be temporary.  When it is lifted, Houstonians affected who will be able to take advantage of the President’s order need access to accurate information and a way to connect with reputable organizations that can help them.  With the launch of this new website, I’m pleased to report that Houston is ready.”

The website [www.citizenshipcorner.org] provides access to accurate, up-to-date information about applying for citizenship and new “deferred action” programs that offer the right to stay in the U.S. and work permits to eligible undocumented immigrants.  The site will help people find trusted community organizations for legal guidance and assistance.

“The new immigration policies will have a huge impact on our community,” said Wafa Abdin, Vice President of Immigration and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance, a member of HILSC. “We are the largest provider of low-cost legal services for immigrants in Houston. We are working with our colleagues in the Houston region to address the increased demand from immigrants seeking accurate information and legal assistance as pertains to the expanded DACA and the new DAPA program.”

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is of course a program that was initiated by the Obama administration in 2012. Under the new plan, DACA is set to be expanded, so more people will be eligible for protection from deportation and a 3 year work permit.

DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, is a new program that would grant the same work permits and protection from deportation to parents of American Citizens or DACA recipients.

It’s important to note that despite the judges’ claims, the DACA program has been incredibly successful in its first two years.  Over half a million work permits have already been granted, including some 88,000 for undocumented persons residing in Texas.  Free from the looming threat of deportation, DACA has improved the lives of its beneficiaries, whom no longer have to seek illegal routes of doing business within the United States.  The program of bringing more people out of the shadows is actually serving to make everyone safer.

And by the way, the “cost burdens” that everyone talks about from Immigration Action?  That’s false as well.  Each DACA recipient had to pay a $465 fee for the work permit, which brought over $250 million in additional revenue to the U.S. government.  That’s more money that can be used to actually make the country safer… not the other way around.

Thankfully, Houston sees the extreme benefit that these programs can provide to the region.  So visit www.citizenshipcorner.org and to stay up to date on the developments, and help stop the spread of misinformation.

Dos CentavosBrains and Eggs and Off the Kuff  have more on the judge’s injunction and basically unforgivable reactions from our esteemed GOP leaders.

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(Houston Mayor Annise Parker surrounded by Council Members and Immigration Advocates.  Photo credit:  HTV video)

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