March 10, 2016

RI Delegation Signs Supreme Court Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court to Uphold Executive Actions on Immigration

Washington, D.C. – In advance of oral arguments scheduled before the Supreme Court on April 18, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline have joined more than 200 members of Congress in filing an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the Obama administration’s executive actions in the United States v. Texas case — the legal case that currently blocks implementation of the President’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs.

In 2013, the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform legislation on a vote of 68-32.  The bill would have allowed undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows, support their families, pay taxes, and contribute to the economy.  However, the House of Representatives failed to act on the bill and it did not become law.  In November of 2014, the Obama Administration announced plans to expand the DACA program covering those who arrived in the U.S. as small children, and create DAPA to offer temporary protection from removal to the parents of American citizens and lawful permanent residents.  On February 16, 2015, a federal district court in Texas blocked the implementation of those programs, and on November 9, 2015, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this ruling, setting up oral arguments before the Supreme Court next month.

“The President made a lawful decision and the right decision not to tear families apart.  And Congress has clearly allowed previous Administrations, both Democratic and Republican, to use their discretion in implementing certain aspects of our immigration laws,” said Senator Reed.  “I am optimistic the Supreme Court will decide this case on the merits and uphold the President’s authority to set immigration enforcement priorities.  Instead of unfairly targeting families and children, Congress should finally enact comprehensive immigration reform to fix and strengthen the system.”

“Our laws give President Obama the clear authority to set policies that will keep families intact and preserve the promise of the American dream for generations to come,” said Senator Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  “Our immigration system remains broken and in need of comprehensive reform.  Until that time, it is important to preserve the President’s authority to enforce immigration policy in a manner consistent with the law and with our nation’s values and traditions.”

Citing the vast legal precedent that supports issuing rational enforcement practices like DAPA and expanded DACA, and outlining why the President’s actions fall within the Take Care clause of the Constitution, the members signing the amicus brief urge the Court to reverse the decision in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and vacate the preliminary injunction blocking the programs from being implemented.

“The time for comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue, but until we carve out a better, clearer path to citizenship for those who wish to come here to improve their lives and to improve our country, we should do everything in our power to keep families together. The DACA and DAPA programs are designed to do just that – keep families intact and strong, and in turn keep the American dream alive for those who seek a new life in America,” said Congressman Langevin.  “America is a land of immigrants, a fact that has always been one of our greatest strengths, and these programs support a future that stays true to the values of our nation.”

The brief, which was filed to the Supreme Court this week, is signed by 39 Democrats in the Senate and 186 in the House.  The amicus brief was spearheaded by Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D- CA19).  This is the second strong showing from Democrats in filing a legal brief supporting the President’s immigration executive actions.

“Our immigration system is seriously broken. It is ripping families apart, and it does not serve our national interests. I am proud to join this amicus brief in support of the President’s executive action,” said Congressman Cicilline, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee. “In the face of Congressional inaction, the President has implemented commonsense measures to ensure that millions of hardworking immigrant families are not threatened with deportation. There is no question that the President’s actions fall within the Executive Power of the President as defined under the Constitution, and I look forward to the Supreme Court resolving this issue once and for all.”

Read the full text of the amicus brief here.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921