POLITICS

House Democrats Encourage Representatives To Keep Holding Events On Obama Immigration Actions

02/19/2015 06:41 pm ET | Updated Feb 19, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- House Democrats are pressing forward with efforts to tout President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration and encourage undocumented immigrants to prepare to sign up, even after a setback this week when a federal judge temporarily halted the policies.

On Thursday the office of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) sent a memo, created with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), to other House Democratic offices laying out talking points, event suggestions and other information for spreading the word about the Obama immigration policies, which could allow as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the country and work.

"As the court process moves forward, your Member should still hold these events to educate communities, instill confidence, dispel fears, and continue to urge Republicans to work with Democrats to fix our nation’s immigration system, which the majority of Americans agree is broken," reads one document in the packet, which was shared with HuffPost by a Democratic source.

The main memo sent to offices states that "there is every reason to remain confident that the courts will reaffirm what they have previously ruled: that the President has the authority to set priorities for the enforcement of our immigration laws and that they will allow" the government to proceed with the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Democrats have said much of the same publicly. But the memo indicates further that behind the scenes, they remain confident the programs will be allowed to move forward in the end, and believe it's worth devoting time and resources to making sure they succeed.

The memo lays out suggestions for two events: one with stakeholders to discuss how they can help with the process and another with undocumented immigrants who may want to apply. DAPA would allow undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to stay in the U.S. and work legally, while DACA does the same for those who came to the U.S. as children.

DAPA has been put on hold after the preliminary injunction, as has an expansion of DACA that would make more undocumented immigrants eligible. Those eligible for the 2012 version of DACA can still apply and renew if they already have that status. The Department of Justice is planning to appeal the judge's order.

The Democrats laid out several talking points on the preliminary injunction in Brownsville, Texas, which was part of a case brought by 26 states challenging the constitutionality of Obama's actions. The judge has not yet made a final ruling, but stopped the programs from moving forward while he considers the case. The Department of Justice is planning to appeal the judge's order. Democrats are encouraged to note in their districts that "this is just the first step in a long process and not a final ruling on the merits of the case."

The memo also suggests members tell their constituents the Texas court "is not following strong legal precedent"; that "Congress has authorized DHS to establish enforcement priorities"; that deportations of "hundreds of thousands of immigrants" will continue even if the executive actions go into effect; and that the executive actions are "good public policy."

Advocates have also said they will continue encouraging undocumented immigrants to prepare for the executive action programs, even if they currently are unable to apply. Obama said Tuesday that although the Department of Homeland Security was blocked from starting the programs, officials would be "prepared to implement this fully as soon as the legal issues get resolved."

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