Maine State Capitol. Gov. LePage and 25 other states are sueing over immigration rule. photo by Ramona du Houx
By Ramona du Houx
On Feburary 17th, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville Texas issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the implementation of two programs meant to allow some immigrants to stay and work in the United States.
"While this ruling is disappointing, it is very narrow and does not find that the president's actions on immigration are unconstitutional. The American dream is for everyone, and we will continue to fight for reforms to our immigration system and for a pathway to citizenship for aspiring Americans," said Alison Beyea, Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine.
The ruling, that comes out of a lawsuit brought by 26 states including Maine, affects the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs, which would help millions of immigrants to come forward, register and apply for work permits.
Throughout Maine's history immigrants have added to the state's cultural diversity, businesses, and innovations. Our restaurants that serve meals which melt in one’s mouth and tantalize the senses with spices from abroad are crafted for us by immigrants. These eateries have added tremendously to the quality of life of Maine’s downtowns, as well as the local economies. Some of Maine's scientists that are making breakthroughs at University Laboratories and private institutions are immigrants. Some notable politicians like Sen. George Mitchell came from immigrant families. Gov. John Baldacci has Italian/ Lebanese roots. And Gov. Paul LePage is Franco-American.
“Although this decision marks a temporary setback for the DACA and DAPA programs, ILAP remains confident that the President’s executive actions are strongly supported by the law and will ultimately go forward. We are continuing to encourage clients to collect their supporting documents so that we can help them submit their applications as soon as the programs begin.” Sue Roche, Executive Director of the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP).
The expanded DACA program was set to begin February 18, 2015 for those qualifying under the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for people who entered the country as children.
"Mainers who qualify under the deferred action programs are not criminals and they are not trying to game the system; they are hard-working students, employees, farmworkers, small business owners, and taxpayers who are vital parts of Maine's economy and communities across the state. They are trying to do the best for their families and communities here in Maine despite insecurity and a lack of opportunities in their home countries. I strongly believe that we owe them a fair chance to live, work, and stay in Maine, especially considering the state's aging demographics and workforce shortages." said Ian Yaffe, Executive Director of Mano en Mano.
The Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition is hopeful that the 5th Circuit of Appeals will overturn this injunction, so that millions of people can come forward to live and work in the country they call home and help contribute to America's economic growth.