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14 States And DC To Fifth Circuit: Don't Let Texas And Judge Hanen Set National Immigration Policy

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Yesterday, a coalition of 14 states, led by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, filed an amicus curiae (“friend-of-the-court”) brief supporting the Department of Justice’s emergency appeal for a stay of Judge Hanen’s injunction on the implementation of immigration action.

The states argue they stand to benefit from DAPA and expanded DACA, and, contrary to claims from Texas and other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Judge Hanen’s injunction stands to hurt their economies and immigrant families.

From the brief:

There is overwhelming evidence that the immigration directives will benefit States…when immigrants are able to work legally — even for a limited time — their wages increase, they seek work compatible with their skill level, and they enhance their skills to obtain higher wages, all of which benefits State economies by increasing income and growing the tax base…the immigration directives will also benefit States by improving public safety.

The states argue that, “at the very least,” they should be exempted from the Judge’s injunction:

In light of the complete absence of even a claim of harm in the non-Plaintiff States, there is no basis for forcing the injunction on us.

Of the 14 states who signed onto the friend-of-the-court brief, three of them — California, Illinois, and New York — have some of the largest undocumented populations in the nation, and have seen first-hand how a broken immigration system has hurt their immigrant families.

In a Washington Post opinion, WA Attorney General Ferguson outlined the “far-reaching” benefits of allowing immigrants eligible for immigration action to apply for permits to legally work:

In my state of Washington, approximately 105,000 people are eligible for deferred immigration action. According to estimates by the Center for American Progress, allowing them to work legally will grow state tax revenue by $57 million over the next five years. For California, the estimated impact is $904 million; Illinois, $347 million; and New York, $184 million.

In fact, Ferguson states, even the plaintiffs claiming to suffer harm under immigration action will see their own states substantially benefit from additional fiscal revenue as a result of immigrants being allowed to legally work:

Ironically, even the states warning of “drastic injuries” from the reforms will experience a significant boost. If the estimated 594,000 eligible undocumented immigrants in Texas receive temporary work permits, that state will enjoy a $338 million increase in revenue over the next five years, the center estimates.

Legal scholars have blasted Judge Hanen’s poorly-reasoned decision to halt the program, and today a group of over 100 legal experts and immigrant law instructors released a statement calling his ruling “deeply flawed.”

Immigrant advocates have noted Judge Hanen’s fervent anti-immigrant claims in previous decisions. In fact, when right-wing activist Orly Taitz — famous for promoting “Birther” conspiracy theories among conservative talk radio — needed a sympathetic judge for a case, she went straight to him.

The DOJ is hoping for fast action on its motion, asking the Fifth Circuit Court to rule within 14 days.

As the states’ friend-of-the-court brief adds, “a single State cannot dictate national immigration policy, yet that is what the district court allowed here.”

We’ll keep you posted as more news comes along.