Legal Challenge Led by 26 State Governors Blocks Obama Immigration Order
Salvador Sarmiento, Legislative Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, says President Obama has numerous options to pursue reform and halt mass deportations beyond appealing the decision
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
President Barack Obama’s executive order that could have allowed millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported suffered a legal setback when the two-to-one decision came down in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The lawsuit claims that the president had overstepped his constitutional authority in the executive actions on immigration that may have provided deportation relief and work authorization for up to 5 million people. The decision upheld a May injunction, and the legal challenge was led by 26 Republican governor-led states, which is just over half of the country. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement, the ruling meant that Texas has secured an important victory to put a halt to the president’s lawlessness.
Now joining us from Washington, DC to discuss the decision is Salvador Sarmiento. Salvador is the legislative director at the National Day Laborer’s Organizing Network. Salvador, it’s good to have you with us.
SALVADOR SARMIENTO: It’s great to be on, thank you.
PERIES: Salvador, just give us your take on the decision and what this means to the community you represent.
SARMIENTO: Sure. I think, you know, the Fifth Circuit, we know, is the most conservative in the country. And with this decision it’s definitely an obstacle. But really what we believe is that after this decision, the onus once again goes back to the president, to President Obama, to now take immediate action. And that starts with appealing the Fifth Circuit’s decision.
PERIES: This is a second time around, Salvador. What’s the next legal step available to President Obama?
SARMIENTO: Sure. The Fifth Circuit’s decision can now be appealed to the Supreme Court. That was one of the big concerns, that while the Fifth Circuit delayed their decision, it was really closing the window in terms of how that, you know, for the Supreme Court to be able to hear this case and to be able to review it before the presidential election next year. And it looks like, with this decision happening now in early November, there is still a chance that if the president acts immediately and really pushes, that there’s still a chance that this could be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
PERIES: Salvador, I find this rather frustrating, because in both presidential campaigns President Obama, in order to gain the new immigrant community’s vote, he promised dramatic immigration reform. And here we are, almost eight years in, and very little has been done. And this executive order is really small. Even if it was successful, it’s really a small measure. Your thoughts on that?
SARMIENTO: Right. I think we have been told, we the immigrant communities in the United States have been told for a long time that it was either immigration reform through Congress or nothing. Very similarly, some folks today would say that it’s DAPA or nothing. And of course, both of those strategies are failed strategies, and we know that when we were pushing for the comprehensive immigration reform that there was already a lot that the president could have done earlier on to advance reform and to stop deportation. And today the same is the case. DAPA is just one of the actions taken last November from over half a dozen other executive actions that took place. And there’s still a whole menu of items that the president could take action on.
And you know, as we’re dealing in the coming six months, as part of this wave of anti-immigrant state-level legislation, which we’ve seen in North Carolina already passed, but it’s coming down in Pennsylvania and Florida and Michigan. You know, there’s a lot of things that the president can do now in addition to immediately appealing the DAPA decision that could really start to address the enormous deportation machinery that is still intact. And that includes, for example, a lot of programs that IS is still carrying out, trying to really impose themselves into local jails and entangle themselves with local law enforcement, still.
PERIES: And give us a sense of what he can do that is within his authority, without having to evoke any major legislative process at this time.
SARMIENTO: Sure. For example, there’s still a, you know, Operation Streamline, which convicts people. It’s kind of like a factory of criminalization. It’s still operating in the southwest, in Arizona for example, violating people’s due process every day of the week. IS continues to issue thousands of warrantless, unconstitutional detainer requests, asking local law enforcement to hold people without probable cause, without a judicial warrant. That is still happening regularly, and that is something that is happening under Obama’s watch.
PERIES: All right, Salvador. I thank you so much for joining us today, and we’ll keep a watch on this appeal as well as the issue. Thank you.
SARMIENTO: Thank you very much.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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