MALDEF REPRESENTS DREAMERS IN SEEKING TO DEFEND DACA FROM FEDERAL COURT CHALLENGE
Files for Intervention to Offer Statutory Defense to Court
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MALDEF filed for intervention yesterday in Crane v. Napolitano, a federal lawsuit in which ten Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are seeking to block the implementation of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. MALDEF seeks to intervene on behalf of Pamela Reséndiz and Carolina Canizalez, two young women who received deferred action and work authorization under DACA, and the University Leadership Initiative (ULI) and its members, to ensure their perspective is considered in the case and to protect their ability to pursue higher education and lawful employment. ULI is a student organization at the University of Texas, Austin that encourages immigrant students to attain higher education and promotes civic participation.
"DACA has been a boon to our nation's economy, while protecting some of the most valuable future contributors to our nation," said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "A handful of rogue ICE agents should not be allowed to threaten our national progress through a meritless court challenge."
The DACA initiative is the result of a federal June 2012 memorandum from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; it allows ICE agents to defer removal proceedings for undocumented immigrant students and young workers who meet certain age, educational, and other requirements, and who have never been in trouble with the law. Undocumented immigrants not in removal proceedings may also apply under DACA for protection and work authorization. Represented by Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, plaintiff ICE agents claim that DACA is unconstitutional and that it forces agents to violate federal law. Kobach filed suit in the Northern District of Texas against Secretary Napolitano; ICE Director, John Morton; and Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Alejandro Mayorkas, in October 2012. Plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary injunction against DACA is pending before the Court.
MALDEF is also filing an amicus brief presenting defenses not previously raised in the case that, if successful, would dispose of the case. Among them is an argument that Plaintiffs are wrongfully applying federal law, which allows the federal government to defer removal of persons who have been residing continuously in the U.S. for more than two years. By contrast, DACA requires a minimum of five years for eligibility. If successful in challenging DACA, the ICE agents would actually be able to violate the law that Congress enacted. Attempts to block the implementation of the DACA initiative will ultimately harm undocumented immigrant youth who received deferred action under the program, such as Ms. Resendiz and Ms. Canizalez who graduated from college, are now working full time, and are contributing to economic prosperity in America. Many undocumented immigrant student members of ULI have either received, or are eligible for, deferred action, and require it in order to continue to pursue higher education without the threat of deportation interfering with their studies. Moreover, these students rely on income earned through work authorization obtained through deferred action in order to be able to afford college. If DACA is blocked by the Court, ULI members could lose their deferred action status and work authorization, and won’t be able to support themselves and their families lawfully.
"We look forward to giving DREAMers a voice in this case," stated Marisa Bono, MALDEF's lead counsel on the case. "These are hardworking, law-abiding young people who should have every opportunity to achieve their full academic potential and contribute meaningfully to their communities after graduation. They have lived in the shadows long enough."
MALDEF seeks to participate as amici curiae in the case if its intervention is not granted. Edward Cloutman III of Cloutman and Cloutman will serve as local counsel.
A copy of MALDEF’s amicus brief is available here.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.