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Members of Congress, Advocates Respond to Texas Judge's Ruling Against Executive Action

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White House Press Secretary:

The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws—which is exactly what the President did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken immigration system. Those policies are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws.

The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts, and the district court in Washington, D.C. have determined that the President’s actions are well within his legal authority. Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe. The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson:

I strongly disagree with Judge Hanen’s decision to temporarily enjoin implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Department of Justice will appeal that temporary injunction; in the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it.

Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned. Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for DAPA.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV):

Courts are only involved in the first place because Republicans have spent years blocking Congress from fixing our broken immigration system. Congress should live up to its responsibility and pass an immigration bill that secures our borders, keeps families together and provides an earned path to citizenship.

There is nothing stopping the Senate from debating immigration legislation immediately. Unfortunately, the Senate is mired in a completely avoidable impasse over funding the Department of Homeland Security. Senate Democrats have a simple solution for getting out of this jam: take up and pass a clean bill to fund Homeland Security, then move on to a robust debate on immigration legislation.

Democrats’ offer to first fund Homeland Security and then debate immigration stands. All Republicans have to do is say yes.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY):

.@SenSchumer statement on the immigration court order and DHS funding: pic.twitter.com/4jQHoWvIzt

— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) February 17, 2015

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL):

We may be delayed, but we will not be deterred.  In our neighborhoods, this is about defending families and making sure that children who are U.S. citizens grow up with their parents.  It is that simple.  And there is a great deal of passion and determination in the fight to defend families.  I am telling immigrant communities to keep preparing to sign up millions of families for protection from deportation.

There is no good legal case to be made by the President’s opponents and legislation the hardliners are putting forward in Washington is going nowhere.  Politically and practically the idea of deporting or driving out 11 million people and their families is absurd.  But a group of Republicans have not gotten the message that mass deportation and criminalization do not work and that getting people into the system and on-the-books is a more sensible approach.

Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA):

While we are disappointed by yesterday’s ruling, and believe the Court failed to follow strong legal precedent, it’s important to remember that this is just the first step in a long process, and is not a ruling on the merits of the case.

We believe that, upon swift appeal to the Fifth Circuit, the Court will find the Department of Homeland Security acted within well-established existing constitutional and statutory authority to prioritize enforcement resources, increase border security, and ensure accountability in our broken immigration system.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA):

Round One is in. But one round doesn’t make a fight. Immigrant families are accustomed to the tough fight. We’ll get up tomorrow, push hard, stay strong, and put our faith in the Constitution. Mark my words: the human spirit will prevail.

United We Dream:

Executive action protecting immigrant youth and parents is solid. Judge Hanen’s ruling is not permanent and we are confident that it will be repealed in a higher court.

Republican attacks like this lawsuit do not scare us, they just focus our resolve to make these programs even more successful.

The almost 700,000 Dreamers who already have DACA are proof that executive action works.
Today’s ruling doesn’t impact those who already have DACA and only delays the applications for the DACA expansion and for DAPA – it is a bump in the road.

Our community won executive action when we stood together and fought for it.  Today, a single Texas Judge may have delayed the applications for executive action but United We Dream hasn’t delayed anything.  Preparation for executive action is going full steam ahead.

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:

Thousands of Illinois immigrants who grew up in this country were looking forward to tomorrow and the weeks to come to finally apply for the expanded DACA program. They had seen what getting approved for DACA had done for their younger siblings, neighbors, and friends, and they eagerly anticipated also getting protection from deportation, being able to work and support themselves and their families, and moving forward with their lives. Instead a single judge hand-picked by opponents of immigrants and of this Administration has temporarily blocked the path forward for these immigrants and millions more who could similarly benefit from DAPA this spring…We say to our communities: do not be confused or deterred by this one judge, but instead keep moving forward, keep getting ready, and keep pushing for a more permanent fix that will bring us toward full citizenship and benefit our entire nation.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles:

Anti-immigrants who brought forth this frivolous lawsuit seem to have forgotten that we fought hard for this victory, and we’re not going to let anyone take it away from us. We’re still fighting for a permanent solution that includes a path to citizenship for all 11 million…

This is just the first round in a long, drawn out legal process. Hundreds of legal scholars agree that the President’s executive action on immigration are constitutional and within his authority. We are confident that the court system will eventually reject this meritless lawsuit that only wastes taxpayer dollars, disenfranchises immigrant workers and families, and robs much needed revenue from state economies.


DACA and DAPA are among the only commonsense solutions on immigration that have emerged in the last two decades. Detractors of these programs may try to paint this as a fight with the president, but make no mistake: attempts to dismantle these programs are attacks on American families. They are attacks on U.S. citizen spouses and children who are seeing their families torn apart because some of our lawmakers refuse to do what is necessary to fix our immigration system,” said Murguía. “Those behind this lawsuit would do a much greater service to their states if they devoted this level of energy to getting their congressional delegations to act on immigration reform, rather than putting targets on the backs of families to settle a score with the president.

ACLU Immigrant Rights’ Project:

Despite its extreme and inflammatory rhetoric, the Texas court decision does not explicitly hold that DAPA, DACA, or any other part of the federal government’s executive actions, is unconstitutional.

The decision is very narrow, holding only that the federal government may have failed to follow procedural requirements before implementing Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

While this setback is serious and should be redressed in due course, the government’s other reforms to protect civil liberties and immigrant communities — including the fundamental principle that the Department of Homeland Security may set priorities for immigration enforcement and exercise prosecutorial discretion — ​remain in place.

Fair Immigration Reform Movement:

This deplorable ruling by an out of touch Republican-appointed judge is a political stunt orchestrated by the anti-immigrant faction of the GOP.  it is contrary to what is right for this country’s economy and what the majority of Americans want and support. This decision may delay the implementation of deferred action programs like DACA and DAPA, but it will not stop them. All it does is put Republicans on the wrong side of history yet again. Americans believe it is right for immigrant families to be able to stay together, and for all people living in the U.S. to be able to continue to do so without fear.

Alliance for Citizenship:

This lawsuit from the get-go has been a fear tactic by anti-immigrant attorneys general and governors to scare away eligible immigrants from applying for DACA and DAPA. They seem to have forgotten that our movement fought hard for this victory, and we’re not going to let anyone take it away from us. We’ve been under these kinds of attacks before, and our communities continue to grow stronger and more united.

Millions of families are ready to come forward and want to fully be a part of the American Dream. We will remember who stood up for us and those who tried to intimidate, scare, and oppose us.

Marshall Fitz, Center for American Progress:

This ruling is nothing more than judicial activism by an extremist judge who has criticized this administration’s immigration policy in the past. This legal challenge, as well Republicans’ attempts to repeal executive action, are all part of a fear-mongering campaign from those on the right to sow confusion among the people who might benefit. Opponents of immigration know that once these actions go into effect, they will be a broad success and are using every tool they have to try and stop them in an effort to put millions of people back in the crosshairs for deportation. Considering the ample legal and historical precedents for the president’s actions—not to mention the broad economicfiscal, and national security benefits—I am confident that this decision will be overturned upon appeal, making this decision only a temporary setback.

National Immigration Law Center:

Opponents’ declarations of victory today are premature. We are confident that the courts will ultimately side with the scores of legal experts, state leaders, city officials, and law enforcement leaders who say that these immigration initiatives are both in full compliance with law and deeply beneficial to our communities, society, and country. In the meantime, we will only strengthen our resolve to prepare for the moment when immigrant families can come forward and apply for the opportunity to contribute more fully to the country they have made their home.

“This decision will undoubtedly raise concerns for immigrant communities anxiously awaiting the day they can come out of the shadows. They should continue preparing for implementation by gathering documents that serve as proof of their eligibility, saving money for application expenses, and staying informed. It won’t be long before eligible immigrants will be able to live without the fear of deportation while working lawfully and contributing to their families and communities. That will be a good day for our country.