Obama still ‘optimistic’ as judge delays expansion of immigrant orders

By Christine Smith

 President Barack Obama expressed  optimism–shared by some immigration experts–that a Texas judge’s ruling to delay the expansion of the president’s executive order that would grant children of undocumented immigrants a temporary reprieve from deportation will be eventually be overturned.

Although Texas U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a preliminary injunction Feb. 16 to prevent the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a component of President Obama’s immigration action that was set to start accepting applications on Feb. 18, Obama said Wednesday he remains confident about his immigration policy.

This is despite the Justice Department’s request for an emergency stay of the order on Monday. In the meantime, according to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, an estimated 80,000 Illinoisans who qualify for this extended DACA program are now unable to apply.

“The decision by a Texas federal judge…disappointed many would-be applicants,” ICIRR’s Policy Director Fred Tsao said in a press release issued by the organization.

However, Tsao, like Obama, is not concerned about the Texas court’s ruling.

“We are confident that a higher court will reverse the ruling on appeal,” Tsao said. The delay “provides more time for community members to get informed, gather documents, and seek expert advice from lawyers.”

Chicago immigration associate attorney Beata Leja echoes Tsao’s sentiments.

“This is a temporary hurdle,” Leja said. “Ultimately, the federal government will prevail because the states do not ultimately have authority to dictate immigration policy.”

Even though Leja, Tsao and other Chicago immigration experts do not seem concerned about the recent immigration injunction, Obama insisted Wednesday that the Texas ruling be overturned now rather than later.

“This is just one federal judge,” President Obama said, referring to the Texas ruling during the Florida town hall meeting. “We are going to be as aggressive as we can because not only do we know that the law is on our side, but history is also on our side.

“We’re a nation of immigrants. People who have been living here for a long time…they deserve to have an opportunity. And that’s what we want to provide them.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services still anticipates accepting applications for DAPA, another component of President Obama’s executive order, in May. It remains to be seen what will happen to the DACA expansion portion of Obama’s executive action.

Photo at top: President Barack Obama rallies support from Florida International University students Wednesday during a town hall meeting on immigration. (Florida International University) (Christine Smith/Medill)