SILVER SPRING, Maryland - Amid months of news about federal government actions against immigrants, a court ruling April 24 and an announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions the next day on a legal rights orientation program were welcomed by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
First was the April 24 U.S. District Court ruling that the decision by the Trump administration to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was unlawful. That ruling could affect a million or more people who currently have DACA or could now apply for it.
Two other federal courts have issued injunctions blocking the administration’s action from taking full effect while challenges are being litigated.
Jeanne Atkinson, CLINIC’s executive director, said: “this ruling reinforces what other courts have held, namely that DACA was initiated within executive authority and that it cannot be ended without any legal justification. Let’s hope that Congress finds a permanent solution as soon as possible.”
The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates on the legality of the administration’s action went a step further than the existing injunctions, saying the federal government must accept new applications for DACA. However, he added that the order will not take effect for 90 days, to give the administration time to respond. If the ruling takes effect, it will invalidate the administration’s attempt to rescind DACA.
CLINIC advised the 330 affiliated organizations in its network to use the 90-day period before new applications might be accepted to review with their clients the risks and benefits of seeking DACA for the first time. There are still several significant legal steps that have to occur before people with DACA or those who could potentially get DACA can breathe easily. In the meantime, CLINIC’s network stands ready to provide legal advice and representation.
In a second piece of welcome news, Sessions told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on April 25 that he was no longer going to suspend the Legal Orientation Program while its effectiveness is being reviewed. The program funds legal rights trainings at immigration detention centers. It was due to be suspended May 1 pending the outcome of an internal review.
Martín Gauto, a CLINIC senior attorney, explained that the program has been reviewed several times, including just a year ago by the Justice Department, which recommended expanding the Legal Orientation Program. A previous review by the Executive Office for Immigration Review found the program saved Immigration and Customs Enforcement $17.8 million because detainees who get the orientation move through immigration court faster than those who do not.
“Vulnerable detainees will continue to get important information about their rights and legal options,” said Gauto. “Immigrants who receive Legal Orientation Program assistance are more likely to get legal counsel. And people who have legal counsel are more likely to obtain relief in immigration court.”
April 26, 2018
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