House Votes To Defund DACA As Multi-State Lawsuit Against Executive Action Opens
About half of all of the unauthorized immigrants in Arizona's Maricopa and Pima counties could qualify for the president’s executive actions on immigration. That’s according to new estimates from the Washington-based non-partisan think tank, the Migration Policy Institute.
But those immigration programs are under attack.
On Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives voted to block funding for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program.
Erika Andiola is one of some 700,000 young immigrants who was brought here illegally as a child and received a work permit because of the program, which is known as DACA.
But Andiola said she isn’t concerned by the vote.
“It hasn’t been signed by the president and we don’t think it will be signed by the president,” Andiola said. “But we are going to continue to look into what happens in the courts, I think the courts are the biggest threats to us.”
A federal district court in Brownsville, Texas, will hear arguments Thursday on the president’s newest executive action. It provides work permits and deportation relief to a larger group of unauthorized immigrants, including parents of U.S. citizen children.
More than 20 states, including Texas and Arizona, have sued to block it from taking effect. The states claim Obama’s action overreaches his constitutional power.
Law enforcement officials from around the country, including three in Arizona, have shown their support of the president's immigration order. Two national police associations and other law enforcement leaders have filed an amicus or “friend of the court” brief in the case. The brief states:
“[The] Deferred Action Initiative will improve public safety by encouraging community cooperation with police, an essential element to effective policing and improving public safety."
The police chiefs of Tucson and Peoria, as well as the Santa Cruz County Sheriff, have signed the brief. Last month Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor said his department is scaling back immigration enforcement as a result of the Obama's executive action.
On the other side of the debate, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has filed a separate challenge that is now before a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. after a lower court dismissed his suit.
Andiola said eligible immigrants should still plan to apply for these Obama administration programs.
“People need to continue to gather their documents to be ready,” Andiola said. “Because at the end of the day, the biggest number of people we have applying, the biggest power that we have to defend what we won.”
According to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute, there are 71,000 unauthorized immigrants in Maricopa County and 11,000 in Pima County who could benefit for the new executive action programs announced by Obama in November.
That is in addition to an estimated 22,000 immigrants in Maricopa County and 3,000 in Pima that qualify for the 2012 DACA program.