An update on executive action and the Texas lawsuit

Dear friends,

As you've probably heard by now, a judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction last night to halt some of the President's executive actions on immigration. Specifically, the injunction blocks the government from moving forward on the implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA--the deportation relief programs that would allow qualified immigrants to apply for a three-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit. 

While we are disheartened by the injunction, we are not discouraged. This is the ruling we were expecting, as the anti-immigrant judge in Texas was handpicked by the plaintiffs because his opinions on immigration are so far outside of the legal mainstream. Today's ruling is not the end of DACA and DAPA, but it is a delay until a higher court overturns the injunction and allows the programs to be implemented. We will keep you informed as the legal process unfolds. In the meantime, here's a helpful summary of the lawsuit and injunction, and you can read our statement to the press in English and Spanish

Whether there's a delay of weeks or months, we remain confident that the relief that we have fought so hard for will become a reality for the 50,000 eligible families in Tennessee. Since the announcement of the new programs on November 20th, we've already reached nearly 10,000 people through our information sessions and we will continue the important work of readying our communities to apply, no matter how long the injunction lasts.

Finally, it's important to remember that despite today's ruling, we are winning. We won an historic victory when the President made his announcement last November, and our opponents are grasping at straws to try to undermine that victory. We will defeat this legal challenge, and we will continue our work for a more permanent reform and greater relief for immigrant families. President Obama's executive actions reaffirmed our belief that when we organize, we can win big and transform our communities--and we will!  

All the best,

Stephanie Teatro
Co-Executive Director


La sentencia de Texas es solo el primer paso, familias inmigrantes prevalecer√°

Después del anuncio del presidente el 20 de noviembre del 2014  sobre una serie de acciones ejecutivas; veintiséis estados, incluyendo Tennessee, presentaron una demanda para detener algunas de estas nuevas políticas. Específicamente, la demanda propone anular los programas de acción diferida que proporcionan un alivio a las deportaciones y permisos de trabajo para algunos inmigrantes indocumentados que llegaron antes de los 16 años de edad y otros que son padres de ciudadanos estadounidenses y residentes permanentes. Este programa permitiría hasta 5 millones de personas, la mayoría padres de ciudadanos estadounidenses, a aplicar para una protección de deportación y permisos de trabajo. 

Anoche, el juez Andrew Hanen, un juez asignado por George W. Bush del distrito del tribunal federal en Brownsville, Texas, falló en contra del gobierno federal y ha otorgado un “mandato judicial preliminar” a nivel nacional. Esto significa que el gobierno federal no puede continuar preparando las aplicaciones para la expansión del programa de DACA y las aplicaciones no estarán disponible mañana como estaba planeado.

Sin embargo, esta decisión es solo el primer paso de muchos y el único peligro que esta demanda presenta es un atraso en el proceso de aplicación. Se espera que el gobierno de Obama presente una apelación a esta decisión y que su caso sea considerado en otro tribunal. También se espera hacer una petición de emergencia donde se pueda continuar con la implementación de las acciones ejecutivas mientras que la demanda continua su proceso. Las acciones ejecutivas del presidente Obama fueron tomadas de una manera legal y dentro de su poder. Es solo cuestión de tiempo antes de que un juez falle a favor de los nuevos programas de acción diferida y las comunidades puedan empezar  a presentar sus aplicaciones.

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Texas Immigration Lawsuit Plays Politics with People's Lives, Tennessee Immigrants Undeterred by Injunction

Nashville - Last night, Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush-appointed judge from the Federal District Court in Brownsville, Texas, placed a temporary injunction on the provisions of President Obama's executive action that would allow up to 5 million people, the majority of whom are parents of U.S. citizen children, to apply for a deferral from deportation and work permits.  We urge the Department of Justice to submit an emergency appeal and ask for a stay of the injunction pending a full appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. USCIS had planned on accepting applications for the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program tomorrow and for the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program in May. Until the stay is granted, implementation of these programs has been halted. 

Judge Hanen's injunction is outside of the legal mainstream and will not be upheld by higher courts. More than a hundred constitutional law experts and legal scholars agree the President used his legal authority to begin to address our country’s broken immigration system. Strong legal precedents set as recently as 2012, when the Supreme Court ruled in Arizona v. United States that the federal government had complete authority to establish deportation priorities, demonstrate that the President has acted well within his authority. Ignoring legal precedent and unnecessarily delaying the implementation of these new programs seeks only to confuse immigrant community members and threaten the progress on desperately needed reforms to our immigration system. This lawsuit and today's injunction hurts immigrant families and hurts Tennessee.

The proponents of the lawsuit, including our Attorney General in Tennessee, are playing politics with people's lives. TIRRC urges Attorney General Slatery to withdraw Tennessee as a plaintiff from this politically motivated lawsuit. By being a party to the lawsuit, Attorney General Slatery is standing in the way of more than 50,000 people in Tennessee being able to apply for relief and participate more fully in our communities. While this lawsuit wastes taxpayer money and will ultimately fail, implementation of the deportation relief programs would increase employment mobility and increase the earnings, and taxable income, of qualifying immigrants by nearly 10%, and add up to $210 billion to our economy over 10 years. Attorneys General from twelve states and the District of Columbia and more than 30 mayors and 27 police chiefs from major cities have filed amici briefs in favor of the executive actions, arguing that enabling millions of immigrant families the opportunity to fully participate in civic life will benefit local economies and make communities safer. 

Despite today's setback, TIRRC is confident that the programs will ultimately go into effect. Since the President's announcement on November 20th, 2014, nearly 10,000 people that dream of working, driving, and more fully participating in their community without fear of deportation have already attended a TIRRC information session. We will continue our work helping immigrants across the state to understand who is eligible for the program and to prepare to apply.

The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC):

"This politically motivated lawsuit is playing politics with the lives of more than 50,000 families in our state. Attorney General Slatery should immediately withdraw Tennessee as a plaintiff. We are confident that a higher court will overturn the injunction and allow the programs to continue. In the meantime, we'll continue our work with immigrant families so that all eligible individuals are ready to submit their applications as soon as the programs go into effect." 


Tuition Equality Legislation Introduced, Gives Hope to 25,000 Undocumented Youth  

Tuesday, February 11th, 2015

Contact: Eben Cathey 615.775.1069 eben@tnimmigrant.org

Nashville - Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) and Representative Mark White (R-Memphis) have introduced legislation to exempt certain students from payment of out-of-state tuition rates at public universities (SB0612/HB0675), regardless of immigration status. If passed, this legislation would make college a possibility for thousands of undocumented youth across Tennessee.

Under current policy, undocumented students are not eligible for in-state tuition rates and must pay more than three times as much as their classmates to attend a public college or university, no matter how long they've lived in Tennessee. A similar bill was introduced in 2014 by Senator Gardenhire and former Representative Floyd. During last year's campaign, the bill garnered support from institutions throughout Tennessee, like the University of Memphis, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. Twenty other states have realized the economic and societal benefits of offering in-state tuition to undocumented students, and as Tennessee embarks on the Governor's bold Drive to 55 initiative, tuition equality is needed now more than ever.

The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), the organization that has led the campaign for tuition equality since 2012:

"For years, immigrant youth and their allies across Tennessee have been campaigning for tuition equality and now we are closer than ever. We are hopeful that DREAMers in the Class of 2015 will be able to walk across the graduation stage with greater access to higher education. We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Gardenhire and Representative White and look forward to working with them to pass this common-sense legislation in the 2015 session."


An announcement from the TIRRC Board 

Dear TIRRC friends & family, 

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to inform you that Lindsey Harris and Stephanie Teatro will be the new Co-Executive Directors of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. After an extensive national search, the Board realized that the best candidate for the Executive Director position was the dynamic duo in our midst! 

Stephanie and Lindsey have worked seamlessly together for the past year as TIRRC’s Interim Co-Directors. Over the past year, we have all seen what a powerful team they are, and we could not be more excited and fortunate to have them as our new, permanent Co-Executive Directors, effective immediately.

Lindsey came to TIRRC in 2008, and is a fluent Spanish speaker who has her undergraduate degree from Lipscomb University and her master’s degree from Belmont University. Lindsey will continue to oversee the organization's operations and development. Stephanie, herself an immigrant from Canada, joined TIRRC’s staff in 2012 and has her undergraduate degree from the University of Washington. She quickly became a recognized voice in the community and national immigration circles, and she will oversee our organizing, policy and programmatic work. 

Both Lindsey and Stephanie bring tremendous vision and dedication to their respective areas of work, and the board and staff have every confidence that they will be excellent partners in moving the coalition forward.

I would like to thank the members of TIRRC's Board of Directors, TIRRC's Search Committee, the TIRRC staff, and all of our friends and allies for supporting us throughout the search and transition process. 

Please join me in congratulating Lindsey and Stephanie!  

Best wishes, 

Daoud Abudiab

President, TIRRC Board of Directors