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Oregon Undocumented Immigrants at Risk for Sweeping Deportations

portland-841428_640Immigrant parents with children who have obtained U.S. citizenship for decades have filed a lawsuit against the federal government, arguing that a Texas immigration ruling that limits the Obama administration’s policies for protecting undocumented immigrants from removal does not apply in the state of Oregon.

The lawsuit, led by 11 parents based in Oregon, says that the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services rejected their application seeking 3-year protection from deportation under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

Homeland Security, however, argued that the plaintiffs did not qualify for legal status under DAPA because they were all older than 31. However, the parents pointed out that the rejection of their applications were based on a Texas case in which they were not represented, and that the ruling of the Texas court was too broad and did not apply to the state of Oregon.

History of Immigration Program

In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security, under former Secretary Janet Napolitano, established a program providing removal relief to immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. Provided they had attended school and had no criminal record, these undocumented immigrants could apply for 2-year periods of renewable legal status, a setup that also allowed them to seek legal employment.

In 2014, President Obama and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced an expansion the program, extending relief to parents of legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens who had entered the country before 2010 and had no criminal record. The program also allowed these immigrant parents to apply for work legally and avail of Social Security benefits.

Texas Ruling Stops Expansion of Program

The announcement naturally drew negative reactions from proponents of stricter immigration laws. Not more than 2 weeks later, a coalition of 13 Republican states, led by Texas, filed a lawsuit to stop DAPA. Eight more states followed suit, but Oregon was not involved.

U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen ordered the federal government to stop the program, despite the plaintiff states not filing a class action lawsuit. This forced the government to bring the case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, then all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, neither of which blocked Hanen’s order.

But Hanen didn’t stop there. He ordered government lawyers to furnish a list of every person, including names and addresses, who had received protection from deportation under the program. He also ordered all lawyers who represented a plaintiff state to attend legal ethics classes, but later deferred these orders.

Parents in Legal Limbo

The parents argue that the DHS erred in applying the Texas ruling to them, as they were residents of Oregon. Now, they have no choice but to wait for the case’s resolution, all without having their interests represented.

If you or anyone you know is affected by the suspension of DAPA, you can discuss your legal options in a consultation with the immigration law experts of the Lyttle Law Firm. Find out how our services can help you or a loved one by calling our offices today at (512) 215.5225.