Our VoiceImmigration

Nativists try to chip away at immigration action with additional lawsuits

Imagine2050 Staff • May 28, 2015

In recent months, much attention has been paid to the lawsuit involving 26 states challenging the deportation relief programs President Obama announced in November. Texas v. United States, however, is not the only legal challenge the anti-immigrant movement is leveling toward the federal government at the moment.

Two other lawsuits are also attempting to delegitimize the president’s immigration-related actions while Congress refuses to address the problems within our broken immigration system.

Those lawsuits are Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. USDHS (WashTech) and Save Jobs USA v. USDHS. And rather than focusing on the larger deportation relief programs like the 26 states are in Texas, these suits are aimed at more specific policy areas involving the issuance of visas and/or work authorization as part of a strategy to more deliberately chip away at President Obama’s actions – casting a disingenuous appearance of lawlessness on the President’s actions as a whole.

The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) is behind both lawsuits. IRLI is the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a leading anti-immigrant group. Imagine 2050 noted IRLI’s increased activity late last year after Dale Wilcox moved from his position at FAIR to become IRLI’s executive director. Since then, the group has revamped its website and increased its public presence with press releases announcing lawsuits and amicus briefs the group has filed – including several in support of the plaintiff states in Texas.

IRLI press releases have also noted John Miano’s involvement in its more recent litigation activity. In addition to being a practicing attorney, Miano is a fellow at another beltway anti-immigrant organization, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) – which was founded as a project of FAIR. IRLI only recently added Miano’s name to the “Attorneys and Staff” section of its website.

When IRLI and its clients were awarded standing in the WashTech case on November 21, 2014 – one day after the President’s announcement – it issued a press release boasting the decision “has major implications for the ability of American workers to judicially challenge certain elements of the actions taken yesterday and today by President Barack Obama that expand dramatically the number of work visas and the terms or durations of those work visas.”

Since that decision, other nativist organizations have lent their support to IRLI and WashTech. CIS published a report deriding the student visa program that IRLI and WashTech are challenging as an “obscure immigration program” that “hurts U.S. residents – both young and old.” Two far-right organizations that actively strategize with nativist organizations, Judicial Watch and Eagle Forum, each filed amicus briefs supporting IRLI’s legal challenge. Nativist members of the Senate Judiciary Committee even provided Miano a platform by allowing him to testify on behalf of WashTech during a hearing in March.

While IRLI’s clients have been awarded standing in WashTech, the case is still pending. More recently, in April, IRLI and Miano filed another lawsuit on behalf of Save Jobs USA. IRLI sought a preliminary injunction against a program providing work authorization to some spouses of guestworkers. That motion was denied early this week.

“I do not want to be a spin-doctor. A loss is a loss,” Miano wrote of the decision on CIS’ website. “However, the situation here is much like losing the last preseason game of the NFL season: It hurts but it does not count in the quest for the Super Bowl.”

With these legal challenges against the president’s actions — and these are likely not the last — the organized anti-immigrant movement is preparing itself for a long season and it showing no signs of stopping. To many of the organizations and supporters of the anti-immigrant movement, a ruling favoring the states in Texas v. United States would be akin to a Super Bowl win. However, without these IRLI-led lawsuits, they may not even make the playoffs.



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