Hundreds of immigrants and advocates from across the country gathered in New Orleans last week in support of President Obama's executive action programs on immigration. On April 17, the 5th Circuit Court heard oral arguments on the injunction filed in Texas v. the United States, which seeks to halt implementation of the executive action across the United States.
In February, federal district court Judge Andrew Hanen issued an injunction which temporarily delayed the extended 2012 Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs — programs that could protect as many as 5 million undocumented individuals.
A ruling is expected to be released within a few weeks but could come as early as this week.
The Department of Justice and many immigrants’ rights advocacy groups, including many in the faith community, have been diligently working to protect DAPA and DACA and demonstrate the negative impacts — including economic costs — that Judge Hanen’s ruling has created for communities across the country.
Fortunately, the procedure to lift the injunction has been fast-tracked by the 5th Circuit Court, meaning that the judicial process has been sped up given the urgency of the overall case. Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, believes that the decision to accept the fast-track of the injunction is positive for the federal government because “it shows how the 5th Circuit seems to recognize that it is a very important case.”
Supporters of DACA/DAPA remain hopeful that the 5th Circuit Court will deliver a positive decision. As Farmworker Justice noted, “Judge Stephen Higginson appeared to agree with the US government, calling Texas’ argument ‘a dangerous rule to write.’”
As we await the 5th Circuit’s decision on the injunction it is important to remember that there is still a larger battle to be fought in the full appeal of the Texas v. the United States case. In the meantime, many advocates are urging individuals who may qualify for either program to continue gathering their materials for when implementation begins.
Earlier this month, several amicus briefs were filed in support of Obama’s executive action. An amicus brief, or amicus curiae, means “friend of the court.” Amicus briefs are filed by those who have a strong interest in what the court is considering. Amicus briefs are most commonly used in appeals concerning matters of broad public interest.
Sojourners has joined 19 Catholic, Evangelical and Protestant faith-based organizations to file a faith amicus brief in support of executive action.
These faith-based organizations join a broad array of Americans in filing amicus briefs. These groups include 70 city mayors and county officials, 180 U.S. Representatives, 15 states and the District of Columbia, 30 police chiefs and sheriffs, 150 civil rights, labor, and immigrant groups, and business leaders, educators, and law professors.
In a recent press briefing announcing the briefs, Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center noted,
“Collectively, the parties in these filings represent more than half of the foreign-born population in our country. We are confident that we will win because the law is on our side. But we also know that the wheels of justice often move slowly. In the meantime, our message to eligible immigrants and their families is to be patient, continue gathering the necessary documents to apply, save up for application fee, and don’t lose faith."
The role of the faith community in the Texas v. the United States appeals process is to do precisely what Hincapié asks — don’t lose faith.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaims that he did not come “to do away with the Laws, but to give them their full meaning” (Matthew 5:17).
With Texas v. the United States, Texas is attempting to negate the moral imperative to give every child of God the opportunity to flourish in America. In order for the laws of our land to come into their full meaning, justice for all must prevail in the judicial arena.
Kaeley McEvoy is Campaigns Assistant for Sojourners.