'Justice Delayed is Justice Denied': Court Blocks Reprieve for Millions of Deportations

In a blow to undocumented people across the United States, a federal appeals court on Tuesday obstructed an initiative of President Barack Obama that could have deferred roughly four million deportations.

Human rights advocates bemoaned the ruling, even as they insisted that Obama’s program already didn’t go far enough.

“Over and over again, we see political games played with the lives of our community,” said Edna Monroy of California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance in a press statement following the court’s decision. “Millions of undocumented immigrants are pushing for the opportunity to be treated with dignity and respect as human beings. But meanwhile, the enforcement apparatus is still at work.”

In the two-to-one ruling, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans blocked the Obama administration’s request to remove an injunction placed by a lower court on an executive order put forth by the president in November amid massive protests and direct actions by immigrant justice advocates.

The proposal created a new program for undocumented people who immigrated to the U.S. as children or who are parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to receive work permits—but not U.S. citizenship, green cards, or coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The initiative was met with mixed reactions from impacted communities, with many expressing concerns over the president’s vow to increase policing and incarceration of alleged “criminals” and people who recently crossed into the United States.

“Millions of undocumented immigrants are pushing for the opportunity to be treated with dignity and respect as human beings. But meanwhile, the enforcement apparatus is still at work.”
—Edna Monroy, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance

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But immediately after Obama announced the program, the U.S. government was sued by 26 states on charges that the proposal was unconstitutional. In February, a U.S. district judge ordered that the program be put on hold until the case is resolved.

In statements before the 5th Circuit, the Obama administration argued that states do not have legal justification for suing the federal government over policies that impact national borders.

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