After a Federal Court Upheld the Block on Immigration Relief Programs, Latinos and Immigrants Express Anger at Attorney General Pam Bondi for Recklessly Using her Position to Affect of Thousands of Floridian families
Miami, FL – Yesterday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans denied the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request for an emergency stay on an injunction that temporarily blocked President Obama’s Executive Action to stop the deportation of those who came to the country at a very young age or who are parents of U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents.
The injunction from a federal judge in Texas came after 26 states, including Florida, sued Obama for using his executive power to remedy the inaction of Congress on immigration. Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi signed onto the lawsuit in December to delay DAPA and the expansion of DACA. Yesterday’s ruling meant that both programs will continue to be on hold, keeping immigrants and their families in the shadows while damaging our local, state, and national economies.
“Although not a surprise, this ruling still hurts. It’s infuriating to see anti-immigrant elected officials, like our very own Attorney General, use this lawsuit to deny life-changing relief to thousands of families in Florida. These are families who help key industries flourish, including agriculture that puts food on our tables,” says Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “Why would Pam Bondi waste our tax dollars, essentially going out of her way, to declare deportation war on our immigrant families? Bondi is misusing her position for personal political posturing, and we hold her accountable for destroying lives and hurting our economy. Florida deserves better.”
Through Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which were to be implemented between February and May, the Administration would have stopped the deportation of nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants in the country. Approximately 253,000 Floridians could benefit from this relief, and the state could make $102 million of increased tax revenues over the course of 5 years.
Today, the life of thousands of Floridians remains unnecessarily in the shadows. “Pam Bondi’s decision to join the lawsuit has very concrete consequences in my life. It is not only taking away my opportunity to work, drive, and contribute to this country, but her decisions are putting me at risk of ending up in a wheelchair for the rest of my days,” says Mauro Kennedy, an undocumented father and business owner who came to this country 14 years ago, and is now in urgent need of a hip replacement surgery but is not allowed to even pay health insurance due to his immigration status. “My only hope was DAPA so I could travel to get a surgery. But we are not going to back out. We fought for this, and we are not going to let them take it away. This is the fight of our lives.”
Despite the slow movement of the anti-immigrant lawsuit through the court system, support for immigrant families and the deferred action programs has been building. Nearly 1,500 Floridians have signed a petition asking Pam Bondi to withdraw Florida from the lawsuit. Tampa and North Miami joined an amicus briefs and the City of Kissimmee passed a Resolution in support of relief for Florida’s families, while Miami-Dade County is in process of drafting theirs.
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