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DAPA Injunction Hurts Minority Americans, Not Only Immigrants. By Roger Algase

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In my May 28 Immigration Daily post, I pointed out that the federal district court's temporary injunction against President Obama's DAPA program, which was recently upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, is limited in its scope.

It only stops the administration from granting affirmative benefits, such as work permits to the affected immigrants. But the injunction does not stop the administration from deferring deportation of "low priority" immigrants, including non-criminal parents of US citizens.

Nevertheless, as I mentioned in my previous comment, there has been a good deal of confusion and misunderstanding among the public and in the media about what the injunction means. For example, the Washington Post is running a June 7 article entitled: "Obama Administration stops work on immigrant program."

The story begins:

"A series of legal setbacks have [sic]halted the government's intensive preparations to move forward with President Obama's executive actions shielding millions of illegal immigrants from deportation..."

The rest of the article describes how the government has put hiring new staff and opening new facilities to process the expected millions of DAPA applications on hold.

Reading the above sentence, it is easy to get the impression that all efforts to protect the estimated 4 million unauthorized immigrant parents of American children who would be covered by DAPA from deportation have been blocked. Nor is it at all clear whether DHS is in fact deferring deportation for DAPA beneficiaries, as it is still allowed to do under the injunction.

At the very least, this confusion and misunderstanding are enough to spread fear and uncertainty through immigrant communities across America about whether deportations of DAPA-eligible people will proceed or not.

In addition, the fact that the 4 million affected people are barred by the injunction from getting social security numbers or work permits puts them under a hardship which increases their incentive to "self-deport". This was no doubt one of the reasons for bringing the lawsuit in the first place, as well as issuing the injunction against going ahead with DAPA.

However, it is important to bear in mind that the injunction against proceeding with DAPA, as well as the entire lawsuit against it, are having a devastating effect on millions of American citizens as well, not only on immigrants. Who are the people that DAPA was primarily mean to help in the first place? By definition, they are American children, who were meant to be protected against having their parents deported.

Not only were these children meant to be protected against having their families broken up and losing one or both of their parents to deportation. but they were also intended to benefit from having their parents able to support them. By blocking the ability of their unauthorized immigrant parents to obtain work permits, the injunction against DAPA is contributing to the impoverishment of millions of American children.

And it is not only the American children of DAPA beneficiaries who are being hurt. Many of the people who would benefit from DAPA are married to lawful permanent residents, US citizens, or legal temporary visa holders. These US citizens or legal immigrants are also affected by the fear that their spouses may be deported, and/or the hardship resulting from their lack of work permission.

Nor is it merely a coincidence that millions of the American children and spouses being hurt by the federal court's injunction against DAPA belong to Hispanic or other minority communities and are among the less well off part of our population. While our immigration laws may be blind to factors such as color and class on the surface, it is no secret which groups of people are being hit hardest by current enforcement policies.

Nor is it any secret which Americans, not only immigrants, the lawsuit by 26 states to block DAPA and expansion of DACA is designed to hurt the most. Even though it does not specifically block the administration from "prioritizing" deportation, the injunction against proceeding with the rest of these two programs is hurting Americans of color, and low income Americans, just as much as the unauthorized immigrants it was ostensibly aimed at.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer who has been helping businesses, professionals and skilled workers with employment visas and green cards for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and is a member of the bars of New York, New Jersey, various federal courts and the US Supreme Court.

He represents immigration clients located throughout the United States and overseas. His email is

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Updated 06-08-2015 at 01:26 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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