Legal, Legislative Battles Brew in New York After DACA Decision

Protest against the DACA decision in front of Trump Tower on Sept. 5. (Photo by Mariela Lombard
via El Diario)

[Below are excerpts from a story by El Diario’s Zaira Cortés]

After Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement of the withdrawal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a number of New York elected officials and immigrant rights organizations announced that they will sue the administration of President Donald Trump.

One of the first to take legal action was Make the Road New York (MRNY), who challenged the president’s decision in a New York federal court on Tuesday. The organization requested an amendment of the original claim made by Martín Batalla-Vidal, a “Dreamer” benefiting from DACA, arguing that Trump’s actions violate existing federal laws and the guarantee of equality granted by the Constitution.

The Batalla-Vidal vs. Baran case was first filed in November 2016 to challenge the decision made by a Texas federal judge to prevent DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) from taking effect.

Natalia Aristizábal, an organizer and leader with MRNY, explained that the lawsuit specifically claims that companies and organizations where Dreamers benefiting from DACA work will be affected by the loss of specialized personnel.

The lawsuit also argues that the president’s decision to rescind DACA is fundamentally based on discrimination, as 90 percent of the beneficiaries are Latino – 70 percent of them Mexican.

“President Trump has maintained a hateful rhetoric against the Mexican community since the days of his campaign […] His decision is based solely on prejudice, stigma and xenophobia,” said the activist.

The lawsuit comes one day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said that they will sue the Trump administration on behalf of the immigrant youths.

“DACA has changed my life. It’s allowed me to pursue my dream of continuing my education and supporting my family, with the peace of mind that I won’t be separated from the people I love the most,” said Batalla-Vidal, 26. “Losing DACA would have a dramatic impact on my life. It would prevent me from being able to take on major professional or academic goals, make me unable to work legally, and put me at risk of being deported and separated from my family.”

(…)

Velázquez and Espaillat outline alternatives

[Below are excerpts from another story by El Diario’s Zaira Cortés]

(…) President Donald Trump’s administration officially announced the end of DACA and gave Congress six months to work on a legislative alternative, leaving the future of hundreds of thousands of undocumented youths in the hands of lawmakers.

Immediately, a number of Hispanic legislators representing New York said that they will do everything they can to prevent Dreamers from being deported. Rep. Nydia Velázquez stated that the responsibility the executive power has handed over to Congress falls primarily on the Republican leadership, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, as “Democrats are united and ready to respond right now.”

Velázquez told El Diario that, anticipating President Trump’s decision on DACA, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi requested a meeting with the speaker of the House, Republican Paul Ryan, last week.

For his part, Ryan said a week ago that he also disagrees with the repeal of the immigration policy. Velázquez said that this gives her reason to believe that the GOP leader is “open to comprehensive legislation.”

“So far, there are no details as to when the meeting will be taking place, but the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is already taking action,” said the congresswoman, born in Puerto Rico. “The Hispanic Democratic leadership is likely to meet this week to address the situation,” she added.

Regarding the six-month term granted by the president to come up with a legislative alternative, Velázquez sent a direct message to Dreamers: “You can rest assured that we will exert pressure.”

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who sent a letter to President Trump on Aug. 31 to intercede for DACA, said that one alternative is promoting the American Hope Act, one of the most inclusive bills proposed as a DACA replacement, introduced in July by Illinois Rep. Luis Gutiérrez.

The piece of legislation, which has the support of Nevada Congress members Dina Titus and Rubén Kihuen, both Democrats, would allow undocumented children who entered the United States before turning 18 to apply for permanent resident status. After three years with a green card, qualified residents could be eligible to apply for citizenship after an additional two years.

“The American Hope Act is one of the most comprehensive and inclusive legislative actions at the moment, and it could be seriously considered as a replacement for DACA in six months’ time,” said Espaillat.

[Make the Road New York’s] Natalia Aristizábal agreed with Espaillat, saying that Gutiérrez’s bill would be ideal. “We would support this piece of legislation,” she said.

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