By Kimberly Hefling
February 22, 2017
DACA IS SAFE (FOR NOW), BUT ‘DREAMERS’ ARE NERVOUS: The two immigration guidance memos released by the Trump administration on Tuesday give federal officials the latitude to potentially deport millions of immigrants, but the crackdown left in place an Obama-era policy that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Nevertheless, the guidelines issued by the administration made clear that all “removable aliens” could be subject to immigration enforcement, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the fate of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is uncertain. But the broad expansion of targets for deportation provided by the new guidance, and the fact that a DACA recipient remains in federal custody in Washington state, have advocates worried about whether so-called “DREAMers” are actually safe from arrest or deportation — with or without DACA in place.
— Attorneys are asking a federal judge to issue a declaratory judgment that the Dreamer in federal custody is constitutionally protected from deportation by DACA — a ruling that would have broad ramifications for the more than 750,000 people protected by the program. The legal team representing Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old DACA recipient arrested at his father’s Seattle-area home earlier this month, has filed new documents in federal court arguing that immigration officials violated his constitutional rights and discriminated against him “because of his Mexican heritage and the fact that he has a tattoo — neither of which are crimes in the United States.”
— A federal judge ruled last week that Ramirez must argue for his release in immigration court, but his attorneys now contend that Ramirez and other Dreamers have constitutionally protected rights by virtue of their acceptance in DACA and that, as a result, the matter of Ramirez’s arrest should be resolved in federal district court. “Dreamers and their loved ones across the nation have been thrust into a state of panic and fear, and have begun questioning the integrity of the promises made to them under the DACA program,” the updated lawsuit says.
— Those concerns were echoed in a letter that Tom Torlakson, California’s superintendent of public instruction, and Lupita Cortez Alcalá, executive director of the California Student Aid Commission, sent to school leaders. “Fear among undocumented students has kept many from filling out an application for the California Dream Act, which allows undocumented students to receive state financial aid,” the letter said.
— Spellings joins the fray: The latest voice urging President Donald Trump to save DACA is Margaret Spellings, the former Education secretary who is now president of the University of North Carolina system. “With immigration policy thrown into disarray, these students are paralyzed, uncertain whether they can safely continue their studies,” Spellings wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “The lives and dreams of these students were never meant to be a political statement — they just want the chance to live honestly in the only home they’ve ever known.”
TRUMP ACTION OR NOT, ACLU MAKING MOVE IN GRIMM CASE: Sean Spicer signaled Tuesday that the Trump administration will soon take action on an Obama directive aimed at extending to transgender students legal protections under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs. Advocates who’ve talked to administration sources expect Trump to scrap the directive, especially since the issue of transgender student rights is due before the Supreme Court next month, in the case of a Virginia transgender high school senior, Gavin Grimm.
— The American Civil Liberties Union, representing Grimm, said it plans to file a brief this week arguing that it’s critical for the high court to provide clarity on whether the protections against “sex-based discrimination” under Title IX include gender identity — even if Obama’s guidance is rescinded. Grimm, who identifies as a boy, sued his school district for the right to use the boy’s bathroom at his high school under Title IX. The Obama administration held that Title IX protected transgender students, including providing them with the right to use bathrooms in alignment with their gender identities.
— SCOTUS is set to consider two questions in the Grimm case: whether the Obama administration's interpretation of the law is correct and whether it was right for a lower court to defer to that interpretation. But if the Trump administration rescinds Obama’s directive, it could kick the case back to a lower court.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com