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Three Takeaways As Anti-DAPA Amicus Briefs Start To Roll In

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Today’s the deadline for Republicans to file their amicus (friend of the court) briefs in opposition to DACA and DAPA. It’s the first real chance we’ve had to see how many Republicans will line up behind Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and the anti-immigrant nativist wing of the Republican Party.

Not all of the briefs have been made public yet, but here’s what we know already.

“Mainstream” Republicans are turning their backs on the immigrant community

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and forty-two of his Republican colleagues in the Senate filed a brief in opposition to DAPA and DACA.

This is a huge slap in the face to all of the hardworking men and women — and their U.S. citizen children — who stand to benefit from DAPA and DACA expansion. These senators, governors, and other Republicans are taking action that directly harms their constituents. We have to remember their names in November and every other time they face voters at the ballot box.

  • The McConnell brief was signed by most Senate Republicans, including those who voted for immigration reform in 2013 and those who voted against it.
  • Notably, for immigrants and their allies, Senators Marco Rubio, John McCain, Lindsay Graham crossed over to the other side, joining with unwavering immigration opponents Cruz, Cornyn, Sessions, and others to say “no way” to work permits: no way and no how.
  • Susana Martinez, Governor of New Mexico, and Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, also signed on to a governors-only brief. Their states had not already joined the anti-immigrant lawsuit, so this move seems particularly gratuitous.

Remember their names. By signing on to amicus briefs against DAPA and DACA at this level, these Republicans have decided to fight to the bitter end to keep DAPA and DACA expansion from being implemented. They have taken concrete action to try to keep millions of immigrants with deep roots in this country from getting a piece of paper that will transform their lives.

Speaker of the Republicans, Paul Ryan, filed his “extraordinary” brief in opposition to DAPA and DACA+

We’ve been expecting a brief filed by the “U.S. House of Representatives,” that venerable institution of American Government, one-half of the legislative branch that we all learned about in elementary school. But don’t be fooled, the “House” brief is really just a “House Republican” brief. Not a single Democrat voted yes when Ryan took the “extraordinary” move — in his own words — of scheduling a vote on the US v Texas immigration case.

Let me break it down: Speaker Ryan could have just filed an amicus brief expressing his Party’s views on the case, as 225 Democrats did coming down on the other side. Instead, he wanted to use — or rather, abuse — the power of the entire House, so he scheduled a floor vote on the issue. Despite the fact that he had zero Democratic support, Ryan wanted to pretend to speak with the full weight of the U.S. House — proving once again that this is a politically-motivated case, not a true legal dispute.

  • We just got a copy of the House Republican brief, and we can’t wait to see what “arguments” it makes. Since we already know that DACA and DAPA are legal and in line with actions taken by other Presidents, of both parties, over decades, we can’t wait to see how Ryan twists and turns the “law” to indicate otherwise.
  • But we don’t need to read the brief to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Speaker Paul Ryan is really the “Speaker of the Republicans,” not the “Speaker of the House.” We knew this when he scheduled the unnecessary, political vote and his resolution passed on an entirely partisan basis.

Clearly, opponents are worried about some of our arguments

We’ll report more on the opposition amicus briefs as they are analyzed. But one argument, from the former “homeland security” officials, immediately jumped out for its defensiveness.

  • On the pro-DAPA/DACA side, multiple briefs were filed laying out the vast historical precedent behind these executive actions. In particular, bipartisan former immigration and homeland security officials and bipartisan former members of Congress made these arguments in their amicus briefs filed in March.
  • Today, three former Republican administration officials filed a brief against DAPA and DACA, offering a classic “do as we say, not as we do” line of argument.

That is a weak approach that, quite frankly, has never actually worked. If that’s the best the other side has, then bring it. See you at the oral arguments on April 18th.