Court Rules Against Obama on Immigration

A federal appeals court ruled against President Obama on immigration last week. The ruling deals a blow to the President’s efforts to bypass an unfriendly Congress and reform the nation’s immigration system through executive channels.

Last November, President Obama announced that he would use his executive authority to stop deporting the undocumented parents of children who came to the US at a young age or who were born on US soil. Obama coined the program the “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.” It would have also allowed those individuals that applied for the program to work lawfully in the United States. Obama justified the move by calling it an executive action to prioritize certain deportations over others. The ability to do so has long been a part of the executive branch’s authority. However, the second part of the plan, granting work authorization to parents of US born children, faced a greater challenge. Such a move had less precedent in history and encroached on territory traditionally associated with Congress.

Several states challenges Obama’s action on the grounds that the move would place a substantial and costly burden on their agencies to implement the action. The Obama administration, on the other hands, argued that states do not have a say in policy concerning the administration of the immigration system. Furthermore, Obama argued that the states lack standing to bring suit.

The lower court in the Federal District Court in Texas ruled against Obama, writing that the move would be too costly to Texas, the lead plaintiff. Furthermore, the judge declared that the Obama administration did not follow the proper process to implement the new program. The administration swiftly filed a motion with the appellate court after the ruling to let the program proceed. Now, the appellate court has issued a ruling that affirms the District Court’s decision and continues the hold placed on the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans plan.

In a 2-1 decision, Judge Jerry E. Smith, who was nominated to the bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987, wrote “Congress did not intend to make immune from judicial review an agency action that reclassifies millions of illegal aliens in a way that imposes substantial costs on states.” The 2 judge majority rejected the Obama administration’s argument that the program was a legitimate reorientation of federal priorities intended to prioritize deportation in the most efficient and effective manner. In a scathing dissent, Judge Carolyn King noted that the two judges writing for the majority, as well as the lower court Judge Andrew S. Hanen, mischaracterized the nature of the case. Furthermore, Hanen argued that the judges have carved out an entirely new theory of state standing that did not exist prior to the ruling. According to the dissent, states would now have a precedent to challenge any federal action that places any kind of administrative burden on its or their departments and agencies.

The Obama administration has vowed to appeal the ruling. According to Marielena Hincapie of the National Immigration Law Center, “the silver lining is that this is just in the nick of time for the administration to go to the Supreme Court.

Why Immigrants Are On Strike In CA Prison

Adelanto is a small town in California’s high desert, the kind that doesn’t get much attention outside local news sources. At least 20 and as many as 300 men within the town’s prison are reportedly on a mission to change that, though, launching a hunger strike in the immigrant detention facility, starting to refuse food as of Oct. 30 in order to protest the center’s conditions. Prison complexes and detention centers have received a fair amount of attention recently for lack of adequate conditions for detainees, but just what about Adelanto is causing the men to strike?

The Private Detention Facility

Adelanto is a privately operated facility, run by the Florida-based GEO Group. The Geo Group has a long list of allegations stacking up against their centers, from claims of sexual harassment at one Arizona facility to forcing immigrant detainees to work for little or no pay at a facility in Colorado. In Adelanto, though, it all comes down to basic human rights..

Detainees at the center were already facing major concerns regarding poor conditions, neglectful and malicious treatment by center staff, and a lack of medical care since the center opened in 2011. When the GEO Group announced it would add another 650 beds to the already overcrowded, underserviced facility, the thought of even more systematic neglect was too much for the detainees. Even after the House called for an immediate cessation of the expansion, those in the center were unimpressed by the medical care, visitation hours, and treatment they received.

That’s when they began refusing meals. One of the primary demands from the detainees was to be able to lodge complaints with a grievance coordinator who does not work for GEO. With 4 allegations of extreme physical abuse at Adelanto in the past 15 months, detainees are desperate for some means of representation and protection from a system that is controlled by a private organization.

The issue there is that private detention and corrections contractors are in it for the profit, not the people. They cut costs by undertraining staff, underfeeding and undercaring for those within the facilities, and outright ignoring detainees’ rights to the point of abuse. The problem is worse in prisons, where companies like GEO set up their program to encourage recidivism simply to bulk their bottom line.

The Adelanto Outcome

Not all detainees have continued on with the hunger strike, but the concerns regarding GEO’s operation of Adelanto remain. Other such strikes at facilities in Austin and El Paso, TX are helping draw attention to the matter, putting further pressure on the issue of immigrants’ rights as the 2016 election cycle draws nearer.

GEO has released no information regarding plans to improve care for detainees at the center, though, leaving the detainees in a vulnerable spot after having shined a light on the center’s poor facilities and care. Even so, the strikes continue to spread from center to center as a means of peaceful protest and raised awareness that one can only hope results in change with respect for the human rights of the affected detainees.