President Obama Executive Order on Immigration

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In February, a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Nancy Lorena Morrow, attorney with Friendly House talks about the latest developments with the President’s executive order.

JOSE CARDENAS: Good evening. I'm José Cárdenas . We'll talk to an immigration attorney about the latest on president Obama's executive order on immigration. Plus, an initiative launched targeting housing discrimination in the valley. And we'll talk about the latest advancements in the fight against Parkinson's Disease. Tonight, all this coming up next on "Horizonte."

VIDEO: Funding for "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions by the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station.

JOSE CARDENAS: Thank you for joining us. In February, a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked president Obama's executive action on immigration. United States District Judge Andrew Hansen ruled that the administration had failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act, which calls for the White House to afford a longer notification and comment period before taking action. Last week, a federal appeals court announced it will hold an oral argument session this month on the question of whether to stay Judge Hansen's order blocking the president from carrying out the new immigration executive actions. Joining me to talk about the latest is Nancy Lorena Morrow, attorney with the Friendly House Organization. Nancy, welcome to our show.

NANCY LORENA MORROW: Thank you.

JOSE CARDENAS: So what the president did is an extension of the existing DACA program, he did some other things, DAPA that has to do with parents. Tell us what was intended and we'll talk about what the judge in Texas did.

NANCY LORENA MORROW: So the intention was to expand the current deferred action program for childhood arrivals, which is commonly referred to as DACA. This program is essentially aimed at the dreamers, so that people who have been in the United States for an extended period of time who can show that they've been continuously present, that they arrived before their 16th birthday, who have not been the subject of removal orders during that time period and who don't have certain criminal issues in their background, that these individuals be able to be granted deferred action. Deferred action is not a visa status. It's basically a way of allowing somebody to remain in the United States with the assurance from the government that they're not a priority and will thought be having action taken against them for their immigration status.

JOSE CARDENAS: And that's what the original DACA program did.

NANCY LORENA MORROW: Exactly.

JOSE CARDENAS: And the president intended DACA because it removed the limitation of age, right? You had to be a certain age?

NANCY LORENA MORROW: Initially when it was filed in 2012, the memo required that the person be under the age of 31 at the time that the order was issued. This age restriction was lifted in November's order and so as long as the person could prove that they were -- they arrived before age 16, and that they qualified with all of the rest -- met all the other requirements, they were obviously able to apply, one of the big things is showing that they have been in school or graduated from high school or have at least a GED.

JOSE CARDENAS: And then it picked up a whole other group of people who weren't covered in any way by the original DACA order. Tell us about that group.

NANCY LORENA MORROW: This is a very interesting part of the executive orders that were announced in November. One of them is called the deferred action for parents, and basically the DAPA program is what that's being referred to, the idea was that individuals who are parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents should have the ability to also stay here and keep the families unified, and so again, people who could show continuous presence from January 2010 through the time of the announcement who at the time of the announcement had U.S.-born children and who again were not subject to certain criminal bars, didn't have certain criminal issues.

JOSE CARDENAS: This picked up about 5 million more people which I think is the estimate that people have made?

NANCY LORENA MORROW: Exactly, between the two, it's approximately 5 million.

JOSE CARDENAS: Hugely controversial, resulted in a lawsuit by a number of states, filed in Texas.

NANCY LORENA MORROW: Filed in Texas.

JOSE CARDENAS: They chose the venue, suggestion is that the purposely sought out a judge who has a history of having tough rulings on immigration issues and he did indeed issue a stay. Why did he do that?

NANCY LORENA MORROW: The ruling initially stated that the government's actions in issuing the executive order did constitute a rule and therefore should go through a typical rule-making process, which includes a notice and comment period that would allow opponents to voice their concerns.

JOSE CARDENAS: So initially, the judge didn't say you can't do this. He said you didn't do it the right way?

NANCY LORENA MORROW: Exactly.

JOSE CARDENAS: And what does that have to do with the existing DACA program?

NANCY LORENA MORROW: It doesn't change the fact that the people who already qualified for DACA, they can still keep applying and under the initial order issued in 2012, anyone who qualified under that order is still eligible to apply right now. It's something very important, we want to make sure that people know that. However, the other extension of DACA and the new DAPA program are both on hold until this whole process gets figured out.

JOSE CARDENAS: As I understand it, there's an outreach effort that's going on right now to tell people exactly what happened and what they can expect in the coming months and what are you guys doing in that regard?

NANCY LORENA MORROW: On April 16th and on April 23rd, my office is going to be hosting two more forums. We've had two other ones recently that were going out into communities and basically explaining a little bit more about what exactly the program, the injunction means, and generally, the information about how you might qualify when the programs in my opinion, if it's a when rather than an if when they come into existence.

JOSE CARDENAS: As I understand it, even people who are eligible under the existing program, there are a lot of people who have not yet applied. And is that a result of the court rulings? Do you think people are thinking I can't do that anymore? What do you think is happening?

NANCY LORENA MORROW: I think in general a lot of times people were not necessarily informed. Initially you had to have shown that you were actually age 16 at the time of filing so some people are barely aging into being able to be eligible. There's a lot of different factors that come into play but ultimately there are many people who qualified for the initially DACA program who have not applied and we're encouraging them to do so at this time.

JOSE CARDENAS: And I think while we're talking, we've put up some information on the screen where people can go and get information about when the forums are and so forth. Good luck on the program and I'm sure we'll be talking soon when we hear a decision from the fifth circuit.

NANCY LORENA MORROW: Great, thank you very much.

JOSE CARDENAS: Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte."

Nancy Lorena Morrow:Attorney, Friendly House;

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