tags: Press Releases

Press Call: How Biden Opponents Use the Courts to Thwart Progress On Immigration Policy

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A recording of the call can be found here.

Washington, DC — On a press call today, experienced judicial observers and litigators discussed how the courts are being used by opponents of immigration and how this dynamic may play out as the Supreme Court gets ready to decide on ending the Remain in Mexico Trump immigration policy and potentially rule on a wide range of other immigration matters. They discussed the proposed end of Trump’s asylum ban under Title 42, the legality and future of DACA, as well as other targets on the right-wing agenda to rollback rights won during the past half-century.  With a judiciary and high court reshaped by Trump, a strategy to move cases quickly through the 5th circuit to achieve an anti-immigration outcome, and newly emboldened by the court’s pending decision to overthrow Roe v. Wade, the sky is apparently the limit for Republicans and their efforts to employ the judicial branch in achieving their preferred policy outcomes. Below are selected quotes from each speaker.

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), said, “The misuse of the federal courts by certain states, acting out of political disagreement rather than real injury, has real consequences, and not just in embedding bad policies adopted by a disgraced ex-president. For example, Greg Abbott’s empty and foolish threat to challenge the well-established rights from the 40-year old decision in Plyler v. Doe has caused fears in the general public, with a particular effect on children already harmed by the pandemic and its associated trauma.”

Karen Tumlin, Founder and Director, Justice Action Center, said, “Since President Biden took office, we’ve seen a pattern of red states co-opting the legal system to keep a shadow Trump administration in office on immigration policy. Now, what the Supreme Court does in the Remain in Mexico case will determine how emboldened this red state strategy continues to be both on immigration and other progressive issues—and if the Supreme Court will allow this misuse of our judicial system.”

Allen Orr, Jr., Immigration Lawyer & President of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), said, “The Supreme Court ruled early on that immigration regulation was an exclusive responsibility of the federal government. Today the court has become a quasi-legislative body and a fence around executive actions and discretion, thwarting the will of the voters. Title 42 dates to a dark period in our country’s history. If it is extended or codified, it speaks to who we have become and our apprehensions about immigrants. Asylum is legal. Asylum is legal for all. Asylum cannot be used as bleach, it is good for whites, but terrible for colors. The law does not mention nationality, so the courts should not either. Title 42 is part of a southern immigration strategy based on the racist xenophobic theory of replacement devised as a weapon by Stephen Miller and accomplishes exactly what it was intended to do: circumvent current immigration laws and stop black and brown immigrants.”

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Senior Policy Counsel, American Immigration Council, said, “The most likely outcome of Friday [May 13]’s hearing on Title 42 is that a court will block the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from ending Title 42, despite the agency’s scientific determination that Title 42 is not necessary as a public health measure. While we strongly disagree with the continuation of this horrific and counterproductive policy, it will almost certainly remain in place for the foreseeable future due to ongoing litigation. This delay should address the stated concerns of members of Congress who have called for legislation which would similarly delay the termination. There is no reason to consider legislation on Title 42 at this time.”

David W. Leopold, Legal Advisor to America’s Voice, past president, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) & Immigration Group Leader, Ulmer & Berne LLP, said, “The anti-immigrant judicial pipeline has been constructed by a very radical minority in the GOP to literally bypass the will of the majority of the American people. Strength and endurance tested by Republican attacks on immigration, it’s now used by Republicans as a reliable political weapon against a broad range of issues in addition to immigration. Alito’s draft opinion overruling Roe v. Wade makes clear that the Supreme Court’s right wing majority will deliver a political win to a right wing constituency, settled law be damned.  Emboldened by the Court’s right wing majority, nativist politicians like Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas can now broaden their judicial attacks on immigrants’ rights knowing their challenges will land in the courtrooms of their Republican political allies.”