The Hill (Op-Ed)
By Ben Monterroso
February 9, 2017
At least for now, the imperious presidency of Donald Trump has been held in check by a third branch of government, the judiciary. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the president overreached when he issued a travel ban against immigrants from seven countries that are predominantly Muslim. The ban is on hold while a longer legal battle continues.
The court also rejected a key White House contention that the court does not have the right to review his decisions about immigration, particularly when they stem from national security concerns. “There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” the judicial panel ruled.
In other words, no one, not even the president, is above the law.
This ruling, underscoring the strength of the U.S. Constitution, is being celebrated by the immigrant and Latino communities for more personal reasons. It effectively rejected prejudice against Muslims, and immigrants in general, which has been publicly practiced by Trump since June 16, 2015, when he announced his presidential bid. The celebration, however, is muted by the alternate universe in which immigrants live day-to-day. Trump’s angry words and signatures on hastily drafted — perhaps unconstitutional — executive orders hang like a pall of fear in immigrant communities. Parents worry about being separated from their children and citizen children painfully look for reassurances that their families will remain safe and together.
As the Ninth Circuit court’s ruling was released Thursday evening, we received word that at least 100 people had been swept up in home raids in Southern California cities. We scrambled to get the facts and lend support, with our hearts and minds filled with sorrow over the deportation earlier in the day of an Arizona wife and mother of two citizen children. Having lived in the U.S. for more than two decades, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was allowed to check in regularly with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and was arrested when she arrived at the government office on Wednesday. She is not a terrorist, but now her children are orphaned.
Where’s the third branch of government, the legislative branch, in all of this? Cowering in Trump’s shadow.
With Republicans firmly in control of Congress, few are willing to publicly speak out against the bullying president. Only three have voted against his Cabinet members that, so far, are mostly not qualified to serve.
On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be U.S. Attorney General, carrying out the Trump administration’s corruption of values we hold dear. Sessions, a long-time denier of civil, immigrant and voting rights, was rejected for a federal judgeship three decades ago because of those biases and recorded comments and positions against black voters. It was not surprising to learn that the senator may have had a part in the formulation of the Muslim ban executive order.
In a historic moment earlier this week that required the vice president to cast a tie-breaking vote, Senate conservatives approved wealthy Michigan GOP donor Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education, even though she has almost no experience with public education that most students, including Latinos, rely upon. DeVos also performed poorly during her confirmation hearing.
Another appointee, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) is headed to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with a record of repeatedly trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” because it helped reduce the uninsured rate among Latinos. Price also would like to deny citizenship to children of foreign-born parents.
No, the conservatives in Congress are not looking out for us. However, I have faith in our community’s drive to stand up and defend itself.
As one who has worked all of my adult life to build political power in communities that are often ignored by the politicians, I am deeply moved by all of the recent marches and rallies that have inspired people to get involved. We can and will work together to uphold our national values that include equal treatment under the law for all.
Even though Latino, immigrant, Muslim, and refugee communities are under attack, we have witnessed, not just words of solidarity, but actions. These mobilizations — on the streets, on telephones and by email — show that when concerned individuals engage and team up with the kind of swift legal work that resulted in Thursday’s court decision, we will be victorious.
That same effort needs to be ratcheted up with Congress before the 2018 election. Whether the conservative Congress decides to defend the constitutional guarantee of equal treatment under the law for all, remains to be seen.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com