Tag Archives: deportation

Fearing Trump crackdown, dreamers advised to end travel

Immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, but were protected from deportation by President Barrack Obama, are being warned by some advocates to make sure they are not traveling abroad when Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

Some advocates, lawyers and universities are concerned that Trump might immediately rescind an Obama program that had allowed these young immigrants to work and travel for humanitarian, educational or employment purposes.

That could lead, they fear, to some people traveling abroad being barred from re-entering the U.S.

“We are recommending all travel be completed by or before Jan. 20 in the event laws or procedures experience a drastic change,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. “We wouldn’t want to expose them to an uncertain situation should they not be allowed back to the U.S.”

Trump made immigration the cornerstone of his campaign, promising to build a wall along the Mexican border and deport millions of people living in the country illegally.

His actual plans, though, have yet to be revealed. Recently, he has said he wants to focus on people who have committed crimes.

During a recent Time magazine interview, Trump expressed sympathy for the 741,000 people in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which started in 2012.

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump said. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Advocates are still being cautious.

Nancy Lopez-Ramirez, a 20-year-old student born in Mexico who is planning a trip there as part of a City College of New York class, said she is glad the group is returning by Jan. 15.

“My mom is like ‘I am concerned with you not coming back, I want you to be able to come back,’” she said.

“It is nerve-wracking but I think that at the end it is going to be worth it,” said the political-science student, who was brought to the U.S. when she was 4.

City College, part of the City University of New York, is one of the institutions advising students in the DACA program to return before Inauguration Day. So is California State University, which told administrators to tell participants in the program “that if they are outside of the United States as of January 20, 2017, there is no assurance they will be allowed to return to the U.S.”

Trump can rescind the promised protection right away through an “operational memo” because Obama implemented it through one, said William Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

He said the program’s participants should not consider traveling overseas unless they absolutely need to.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Anthony Bucci said his agency “cannot speculate” when he was asked how long would it take for CBP officers to deny entry to the U.S. to program participants if Trump eliminated the protection.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services records said that as of Dec. 31, 2015, about 22,340 people in the DACA program were approved for the “parole” that allows them to travel outside the U.S.

Trump called the program an “illegal amnesty” during his campaign.

Tatyana Kleyn, an associate professor at City College who organized the upcoming Mexico trip, said interest in it actually surged among students after the presidential election.

“So right now our bus fits 18 and we are bringing 20,” she said. “It feels like a last chance.”

Court to weigh Obama’s immigration orders

The raging political fight over immigration comes to the Supreme Court on Monday in a dispute that could affect millions of people who are in the United States illegally.

The court is weighing the fate of Obama administration programs that could shield roughly 4 million people from deportation and grant them the legal right to hold a job.

Among them is Teresa Garcia of suburban Seattle, who has spent 14 years in the United States illegally after staying beyond the expiration of her tourist visa in 2002.

She already has gotten much of what she wanted when she chose not to return to her native Mexico. Her two sons are benefiting from an earlier effort that applies to people who were brought here illegally as children. Garcia’s 11-year-old daughter is an American citizen.

“That’s why I come, for the opportunity for the children and because it is much safer here,” the 45-year-old Garcia said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Now, she would like the same for herself and her husband, a trained accountant who works construction jobs. Neither can work legally.

“To have a Social Security number, that means for me to have a better future. When I say better future, we are struggling with the little amount of money my husband is getting for the whole family. It makes for stress every day. We struggle to pay for everything,” Garcia said.

The programs announced by President Barack Obama in November 2014 would apply to parents whose children are citizens or are living in the country legally. Eligibility also would be expanded for the president’s 2012 effort that helped Garcia’s sons. More than 700,000 people have taken advantage of that earlier program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The new program for parents and the expanded program for children could reach as many as 4 million people, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.

Texas, Wisconsin and 24 other states sued to block the new initiatives soon after they were announced, and lower courts have ruled in their favor. The programs have never taken effect.

The states, joined by congressional Republicans, argue that Obama doesn’t have the power to effectively change immigration law. When he announced the measures 17 months ago, Obama said he was acting under his own authority because Congress had failed to overhaul the immigration system. The Senate had passed legislation on a bipartisan vote, but House Republicans refused to put the matter to a vote.

“Fundamentally, we don’t think the president has the statutory or constitutional authority to issue these executive actions,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

House Republicans told the court that Obama is claiming the power “to decree that millions of individuals may live, work and receive benefits in this country even though federal statutes plainly prohibit them from doing so.”

The administration and immigration advocates say the immigration orders are neither unprecedented nor even unusual. Rather, they say, Obama’s programs build on past efforts by Democratic and Republican administrations to use discretion in deciding whom to deport.

The court’s last major immigration decision, the 2012 case Arizona v. U.S., lends some support to this view.

“A principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials. Federal officials, as an initial matter, must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. “Discretion in the enforcement of immigration law embraces immediate human concerns. Unauthorized workers trying to support their families, for example, likely pose less danger than alien smugglers or aliens who commit a serious crime.”

The administration and its supporters said the challenged programs do not offer blanket protection, but depend on case-by-case reviews. The protection from deportation also would be temporary, for three years.

“It’s not permanent status, not a green card, not a path to citizenship. It doesn’t get you a ticket into a voting booth. At best, it’s a tolerated presence,” said Angela Maria Kelley, an immigration expert at the Center for American Progress.

The programs also could be revoked by the next president, as the Republican contenders have promised. That might leave people who have provided the government with information about themselves in greater peril of being deported.

Immigration advocates acknowledged that some people might not be willing to raise their hands until they know the outcome of the election.

The Supreme Court case might not even address the issue of executive authority if the justices determine that Texas and the other states don’t have the right to challenge it in federal court. Such a resolution, which could attract support from both liberal and conservative justices, could enable the court to sidestep the potentially divisive details over immigration and avoid a 4-4 tie following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February.

A decision in favor of the administration would allow the programs to take effect in the waning months of Obama’s presidency. A loss or even a tie vote would block them for the foreseeable future.

Garcia said she is eager to apply for the relief Obama offers if it’s made available.

Garcia said she volunteers in the local schools teaching Spanish to children, providing translation for interactions between parents and the schools and working on the school district’s strategic planning effort. But she has had to turn down offers of a paying job with the school system.

Armed with the Social Security number she so desires, Garcia said, “I would work starting right now.”

A decision in U.S. v. Texas, 15-674, is expected by late June.

Milwaukee sheriff must release immigration detainer forms

A Wisconsin appeals court on April 12 ruled that Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke must release un-redacted immigration detainer forms for jail prisoners.

The ruling was on a freedom of information request filed by the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera. The organization requested copies of federal immigration detainer forms more than a year ago from the sheriff.

Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke. — PHOTO: Courtesy
Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke. — PHOTO: Courtesy

The sheriff released 12 forms with redacted information. Clarke maintains that federal law prohibits his agency from releasing the complete records.

The immigrant rights group sued, demanding Clarke provide clean copies of the documents.

A Milwaukee judge ordered the release of the documents and this week the district court ordered the release, within 48 hours.

In a statement, Voices de la Frontera attorney Peter Earle said, “”This ruling reaffirms the right of Voces de la Frontera under Wisconsin’s open records law to monitor Sheriff Clarke to make sure he does not engage in improper immigration enforcement activity. It is a clear victory for Wisconsin’s immigrant community.”

Voces executive director Christine Neumann-Ortiz added, “This is a victory for open government and democracy and the immigrant rights movement. Sheriff Clarke can no longer carry out deportations in secret. We will now obtain information regularly to hold Clarke accountable for his deportations and ensure he is respecting new federal enforcement priorities. We never should have had to go to these lengths to obtain such basic information. Clarke should be ashamed for wasting taxpayer dollars on lawyers to try to keep indefensible deportations secret. It also underlines the need for local law enforcement to not be collaborating in deportations with federal immigration authorities because it discourages immigrants from reporting crimes.”

On the Web…

To read the order, click here.


House votes to punish ‘Sanctuary Cities,’ Obama threatens veto

The U.S. House has passed legislation against “sanctuary cities” that shield residents from federal immigration authorities. Angry Democrats accused Republicans of aligning themselves with Donald Trump and his anti-immigrant views and the White House threatened a veto.

“The Donald Trump wing of the Republican Party is clearly ascendant here today,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said in heated floor debate ahead of the largely party-line vote of 241-179. “This bill is not about grabbing criminals; it’s about grabbing headlines.”

Republicans countered that action was desperately needed in the wake of the July 1 shooting of Kathryn Steinle, allegedly by an immigrant in the country illegally despite a long criminal record and multiple prior deportations. The man, Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, had been released by San Francisco authorities despite a request from federal immigration authorities to keep him detained.

“There are criminals motivated by malice and a conscious disregard for the lives of others, and there are cities more interested in providing a sanctuary for those criminals than they are in providing a sanctuary for their law-abiding citizens,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. “This is more than an academic discussion. … It is quite literally life and death.”

San Francisco and hundreds of other jurisdictions nationally have adopted policies of disregarding federal immigration requests, or “detainers,” which have been found invalid in court and which advocates say can unfairly target innocent immigrants and hurt relations between immigrant communities and law enforcement authorities.

The House bill, by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., would punish jurisdictions that prohibit the collection of immigration information or don’t cooperate with federal requests, by blocking them from receiving certain law enforcement grants and funding.

In its veto threat, the White House said the bill would threaten the civil rights of all Americans by allowing law enforcement officials to gather immigration status information from any person at any time. The White House statement said such an approach would lead to mistrust between local communities and law enforcement agencies.

As debate unfolded on the House floor, Gowdy chaired a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing that included testimony from Kathryn Steinle’s father, Jim Steinle, who was with his daughter when she was shot and killed. As he did earlier this week in an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Steinle recounted his daughter’s shooting as they strolled arm in arm, and her final words asking him for help. He told lawmakers that “hopefully some good will come from Kate’s death,” if laws could be changed to keep criminal immigrants off the street.

Members of both parties endorsed Steinle’s plea but offered dramatically different diagnoses of the problem, with Republicans calling for more enforcement of the law and Democrats calling for a comprehensive immigration overhaul, something House Republicans have blocked for years.

The comments echoed the years-long national debate over immigration, but this latest chapter comes at a moment when immigration has become a hot-button issue on the presidential campaign trail, thanks to Trump’s provocative claims about Mexican immigrants being “rapists” and “criminals.”

Trump traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border last week to continue his focus on the issue, to the dismay of many Republicans who fear his campaign risks further alienating Latino voters from the Republican Party. House Republicans rejected Democratic attempts to connect their legislation with Trump’s incendiary campaign.

“We have a horrible tragedy that was preventable,” said Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, when asked about the linkage. “Cities do not have the right to ignore federal laws that require them to incarcerate people who have committed serious felonies.”

All but five House Republicans backed the bill. One who didn’t, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., a supporter of a comprehensive overhaul, said the legislation wouldn’t have prevented Kathryn Steinle’s death to begin with.

“This is an exercise, this is not a solution,” Curbelo told reporters. “This may generate a headline, but it’s not going to solve a problem.”

But other House Republicans viewed Thursday’s vote as just the first step in advancing a slate of enforcement-focused immigration bills centered on beefing up border security and cracking down on immigrants with criminal records. Such an approach would ignore the advice of some Republican Party leaders who’ve urged the party to reach out to Latino voters by embracing comprehensive overhaul legislation including a path to citizenship for the 11.5 million people in the country illegally.

“The appetite for amnesty has diminished dramatically after we see the carnage in the streets of America at the hands of criminal aliens that should have been removed from the country,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. “And so that means that now the climate is much better to try to move down the line on enforcement.”

Judge orders Milwaukee County Sheriff to turn over records to immigrant rights group

Judge David Borowski on June 3 ordered Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. to provide un-redacted information about people his department turned over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.

The order was made in an open records lawsuit filed by Voces de la Frontera.

And, according to the immigrant rights group, Clarke must respond to the order within 48 hours.

Borowoski, according to Voces, cited Wisconsin’s long history of government in the sunshine, with blue-sky laws that favor citizens’ ability to review the actions of government officials.

Voces de la Frontera filed an open records request with the sheriff’s office in February. The group was seeking copies of forms I-247s from ICE asking local jails to hold people otherwise set for release for possible deportation. Voces said the program, Secure Communities, was ended by the Department of Homeland Security’s security last fall.

The sheriff’s office did not turn over the forms promptly. And, when Voces challenged the department, it received records with critical information redacted. Voces said that information would have shown whether the sheriff was complying with new enforcement policies.

“So many people get detained and placed in deportation and no one knows about it,” said Antonio Ávila, a Voces de la Frontera member. “Now we will know who these people are, we will be able to contact them to support them and their families, and to help them fight their deportation. As an immigrant I feel safer now.”

“This is a victory for the people of Wisconsin and immigrant families in particular,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera. “For too long, Sheriff Clarke has shown a glaring disregard for the rights and dignity of immigrant families in our community. He will no longer be able to carry out what have been up to now secret deportations without community oversight and accountability. This information is part of our civil rights organizing to hold Sheriff Clarke accountable to the rights of immigrants, identify and reach out to individuals impacted by these laws to bring their story to light and fight their deportation, and go to court if necessary.”

She continued,  “This type of community oversight should expand to other counties in Wisconsin. We believe that Immigration should not be entangled with local law enforcement because it violates people’s civil rights and discourages immigrants from reporting crimes,” continued Neumann-Ortiz. “Even so, we know there will be further changes under these new national enforcement priorities, and immigrant community organizations need to have a voice at the table when local law enforcement meets with ICE about these changes.”

Appeals court: Hold remains on Obama’s executive actions on immigration

Immigrant rights advocates pressed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to withdraw from a lawsuit after a federal appeals court refused to lift a hold against the president’s executive actions on immigration.

“Unfortunately, we expected this delay, but we know that it is a delay, not a defeat,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera in Wisconsin. “Scott Walker and the other anti-immigrant politicians behind this lawsuit chose where to file very carefully, where they knew they would get anti-immigrant judges who would help them delay the relief our communities have won. We are confident that the courts will ultimately uphold these programs, as they have every executive action any other president has ever taken on immigration. We are continuing to help people prepare to apply for these programs when they are implemented, and we are continuing to organize to stop police and ICE collaboration and close deportation cases.”

Obama announced an executive action in November seeking to expand a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The order also would extend deportation protections to some parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Although Obama argued lack of action by Congress forced him to make sweeping changes on his own, Republicans blasted the plan as an executive overreach. Twenty-six states — including Wisconsin — sued to stop it, and a federal judge based in Texas issued a preliminary injunction against it in February.

The administration is appealing that injunction and had asked a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to let the program proceed pending an argument on the merits, tentatively set for July.

But, in refusing to stay the Texas judge’s injunction, 5th Circuit judges Jerry Smith and Jennifer Walker Elrod said that the federal government lawyers are unlikely to succeed on the merits of the appeal. Judge Stephen Higginson disagreed in a lengthy dissent.

Immigrant advocates decried the continued roadblock. And, White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said the two-judge majority in the ruling “chose to misinterpret the facts and the law.”

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with the states and, from his court in Brownsville, Texas, issued a temporary injunction on Feb. 16 to block the plan from taking effect while the lawsuit works its way through the courts.

In denying a stay, Smith and Elrod rejected the government’s argument that it has such broad discretion to defer legal action against immigrants absent judicial review. The Obama policy, the ruling said, goes beyond simple non-enforcement. “It is the affirmative act of conferring `lawful presence’ on a class of unlawfully present aliens,” Smith wrote.

Higginson noted congressional inaction on the issue in his dissent and said the administration was acting within its authority.

Smith and Walker were nominated to the court by Republican presidents, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush; Higginson, by Obama.

The White House said its appeal of the preliminary injunction will proceed on an expedited basis in the 5th Circuit while the Justice Department reviews Tuesday’s opinion and contemplates other possible steps.

“This decision is a victory for those committed to preserving the rule of law in America,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.

Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said the decision will result in confusion and fear in immigrant communities. But she predicted eventual victory in the courts.

The first of Obama’s orders — to expand a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — was set to take effect Feb. 18. The other major part, extending deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, had been scheduled to begin May 19.

Hanen issued his injunction believing that neither action had taken effect. But the Justice Department later told Hanen that more than 108,000 people had already received three-year reprieves from deportation as well as work permits. Hanen said the federal government had been “misleading,” but he declined to sanction the government’s attorneys. Earlier this month, the U.S. government told Hanen it had mistakenly awarded three-year work permits to another 2,000 people.

Along with Texas and Wisconsin, the states seeking to block Obama’s action are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

Immigrant rights group challenges Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office over public records

Immigrant rights advocates planned to rally on May 6 at the Milwaukee County Courthouse before suing the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office over public records.

Voces de la Frontera said activists would gather at about 12:30 p.m. at the courthouse at 10th and Wells.

A news release said Voces de la Frontera sued the MCSO “under Wisconsin’s Open Records law in an effort to receive information about the sheriff’s collaboration with Immigration and Customs in deportations.”

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Voces executive director, said, “This is about transparency and the public’s need to have oversight over the activities of our sheriff that are leading to unjust deportations and policies that criminalize immigrants.”

The New Sanctuary Movement, a faith-based program of Voces de la Frontera, organized the rally.

Flashback 2014: Executive action required for immigration reform

On an icy day last February some 100 people assembled outside the ICE office in Milwaukee to protest racial profiling at courthouses in Milwaukee, Racine, Dane, Ozaukee, Waukesha, Kenosha, Walworth, Winnebago, Washington and Rock counties.

“Courts should be a safe place for people complying with or seeking protection from the legal system,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera.

Days before the demonstration, 22 Democratic members of the Wisconsin Legislature called on U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials to stop harassing people in the state’s halls of justice.

The demonstrators and lawmakers also urged an end to the deportations that separate children from their parents and grandparents.

Those calls were echoed throughout the year, as Republicans in the House refused to act on a comprehensive reform bill passed by the Senate and yet also failed to advance any legislation of their own.

Meanwhile, with deportations on his watch approaching 2 million, the president’s progressive coalition was splintering and immigrant rights activists began referring to him as “Deporter in Chief.” Still, he resisted pleas for executive action.

Not until after the midterm elections did Barack Obama announce executive action to protect some immigrant workers from deportation, make work permits eligible for about 4.1 million people who are in the United States illegally but whose children are lawful permanent residents and loosen eligibility requirements for a waiver program for people seeking green cards.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the president had poisoned the well. He wasn’t alone in working off the talking points memo issued by his party.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who is from Wisconsin, characterized Obama’s action as granting amnesty. “If he believed that his actions were urgent and that he had the constitutional authority all along, why did he wait six years into his presidency to act?” Priebus said. “If he believed he was doing the will of the American people and acting in the best interests of American workers and those waiting in line to become Americans, why did he wait until after this last election?”

On the Democratic side, there were those who quietly agreed the party would have done better on Nov. 4 had the president taken action on immigration earlier in the year.

And, among the activists who repeatedly called for reform, there was praise but caution.

“I have been in this movement for many years, and though I am one of those who will not benefit, I am not defeated,” said Guadalupe Romero, a Voces de la Frontera member who has lived in Milwaukee since 1990. “I will continue to fight for myself and all the people excluded from this relief.”

On Dec. 3, a coalition of 17 states, including Wisconsin, sued the Obama administration over the executive action.

The next day, the House voted mostly along party lines for the Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act, a bill that says the executive branch lacks the authority to stop certain deportations. The legislation was DOA in the Senate.

Wisconsin among 17 states suing Obama over immigration action

Wisconsin is among the 17 states in a coalition suing over President Barack Obama’s recently announcedexecutive actions on immigration.

On Dec. 3, the coalition of states, led by Texas’ attorney general, filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of Texas.

Under Obama’s order, announced Nov. 20, protection from deportation and the right to work will be extended to an estimated 4.1 million parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and to hundreds of thousands more young people.

The suit argues that Obama’s action tramples portions of the U.S. Constitution and raises three objections: that Obama violated the “Take Care Clause” of the U.S. Constitution that limits the scope of presidential power; that the federal government violated rulemaking procedures; and that the order will “exacerbate the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, which will affect increased state investment in law enforcement, health care and education.”

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, in a statement, said he joined the lawsuit on behalf of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to challenge the president’s “Deferred Action Policy related to immigration and the treatment, under law, of illegal aliens.”

Van Hollen stated, “It is clear that the president has exceeded his authority and that this important matter should be reviewed by the courts.”

Walker, in a statement, said, “The immigration system is broken, but this is an issue that should be addressed through collaborative federal action, not unilateral action by the president. President Obama’s actions represent a violation of his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws and exceed the limits of his administrative powers.”

Responding, Democratic state Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa said, “Gov. Walker signing onto this lawsuit to block executive action by the president on immigration reform, while disappointing, is not surprising. This strikes me as another conservative bandwagon initiative that the governor is jumping on to improve his national credentials and profile amongst the far-right Republican base he will try to court as he runs for president.”

She continued, “President Obama is using his executive power to set enforcement priorities with available resources, while deferring action on individuals who have fallen through the cracks of our broken immigration system but present no immediate threat to our country’s national security. The governor needs to look at the human element of this executive action and realize it is the most responsible and humane thing to do in the absence of congressional action on immigration.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. House voted this week for a bill aimed at undoing Obama’s executive action, but the move was mostly symbolic, as it was DOA in the Senate.

Potential 2016 presidential candidate and current Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who leaves office in January, also spoke out against the executive order on Dec. 3, saying it could trigger a new flood of people coming across the Texas-Mexico border. Perry and Abbott also have said the order will promote a culture of lawlessness.

In addition to Wisconsin and Texas, the anti-immigrant coalition includes Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

Wisconsin, national reaction to the president’s immigration plan

Thousands of immigrant-rights activists, families and elected officials cheered across the country as President Barack Obama announced on television his plan for relief from deportations for about 5 million people.

But after the initial burst of emotion Thursday evening at hastily organized watch parties and in living rooms, many said Obama’s plan was just the first step in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. Immigrant families pointed out the plan would only cover about 5 million of the 11 million without legal status, leaving many families and individuals in limbo.

Republicans slammed the president’s action as an overreach, while advocates – including Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and California Gov. Jerry Brown – praised Obama’s plan.

Reaction to the president’s plan:

“President Obama’s plan to fix our immigration system is not the comprehensive, long-term fix that agriculture is seeking. Agriculture needs a permanent solution from Congress that provides a consistent and reliable workforce. Wisconsin farmers need a new, flexible visa program that allows long-term access for foreign-born guest workers to enter the U.S.”

– Casey Langan, spokesman, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

“I support President Obama’s plan to reform U.S. immigration policy. Bu using his lawful authority, he is granting relief to millions of hard working individuals — mothers and fathers who are going to work every day, earning a living, paying taxes and raising their families. That is what we would call the American Dream.”

– Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

“The country can no longer afford to wait for a do-nothing Congress to take meaningful action on this important issue and I once again commend the president for his work on behalf of immigrant families.”

– Wisconsin state Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee.

“The president’s decision to issue this executive order is a stunning act of partisanship and polarization. Clearly, he is more interested in playing politics than helping hard-working taxpayers. With this legally suspect and unilateral act, he has poisoned the well on what should be a bipartisan effort and brought relations with Congress to a new low.”

– U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

“I am proud the president has followed through on his promise to address our nation’s broken immigration system. However, I would have preferred Congress debate and pass the Senate’s bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill.”

– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin.

“The ACLU supports the President for taking necessary action to restore some fairness to our broken immigration system, and to place limits on the devastating deportation machine that has torn apart countless families for too long. Now, millions of people, who have lived under the daily threat of deportation for years, can finally breathe a sigh of relief.”

– Anthony D. Romero, executive director, ACLU

“Parents who have lived here for years and had to constantly worry that they could be torn away from their children will no longer have to look over their shoulders.”

– Neera Tanden, president, Center for American Progress

“While Republicans continue to suggest government shutdowns and impeachment hearings, I would like to remind them that the president is acting well within his legal executive authority, the same authority employed by every President since Eisenhower, including five Republican presidents. Despite partisan attempts to instill panic and anger into this critical debate, I have faith that the American public will see past these fear tactics and appreciate the commonsense approach outlined by the president.

— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisconsin.

“Millions of undocumented immigrants who have been waiting in perpetual fear for far too long will finally have relief thanks to the strong leadership of President Obama. Administrative relief from deportation for thousands of LGBT people who want nothing more than pursuing happiness and living openly, honestly and without fear of deportation is an important interim step. It’s now up to Congress to do its job and pass comprehensive, lasting immigration reforms.”

— Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin.

“Progress can’t wait until the tea-party fringe driving the Republican Party comes to their senses. Americans are hungry for President Obama to use his executive power to improve their lives and every time he does that, as he has tonight, progressives will fight along side him every step of the way.”

 – Charles Chamberlain, executive director, Democracy for America.

“I think the president will come to regret the chapter history writes if he does move forward. Because the plan he’s presenting is more than just, as the president himself has acknowledged, an overreach – it’s also unfair.”

– Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“The president’s decision is not a political victory. It’s a victory for families. We know well that this decision is not a permanent solution. It is a first step. If we had it our way, President Obama would be signing a comprehensive immigration bill into law instead of an executive action, but can’t sit idly by waiting for Republicans to act while homes are being broken up all across this nation.”

– Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own. That’s just not how our democracy works. The president has said before that `he’s not king’ and he’s `not an emperor,’ but he’s sure acting like one.”

– House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“I was hopeful that the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate in 2013 would spur the House of Representatives to act, but they refused even to advance an alternative. Their abdication of responsibility paved the way for this executive action, which follows established precedent from presidents of both parties going back many decades.”

– Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“It’s both perplexing and alarming that President Obama has decided to move forward with executive actions that he once said he didn’t have the constitutional power to take. The president’s decision to recklessly forge ahead with a plan to unilaterally change our immigration laws ignores the will of the American people and flouts the Constitution.”

– House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

“My concern is this action will make it more difficult to achieve immigration reform in the Congress. I have grave constitutional concerns about separation of powers that even though the president might be doing something that I think is good policy, it establishes a precedent that essentially moves power from the legislature to the presidency that I think is not in the long-term best interest of the country.”

– Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent.

“The administration is operating within its authority to advance the moral and economic interests of our country, and while we stand ready to defend this program, we must also be clear that it is only a first step. Unfortunately, more than half of those who currently lack legal protections will remain vulnerable to wage theft, retaliation and other forms of exploitation. In addition, we are concerned by the president’s concession to corporate demands for even greater access to temporary visas that will allow the continued suppression of wages in the tech sector.”

– Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO president.

“This is the biggest victory for immigrants and their allies in the past 25 years. We rejoice with the millions who can come forward, get a work permit and live without fear. Giving some 5 million immigrants a chance to work legally and live in dignity, combined with the end of the misnamed Secure Communities program, is a significant step towards bringing our dysfunctional immigration system into balance after years of ramped up deportations, out-of-control enforcement and millions of families being ripped apart.”

– Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy organization.

“Americans are tired of Congress failing to act while families are ripped apart. It’s time to move on. We respect the President’s legal authority to act on behalf of our community, and we hope these commonsense actions prod Congress to pass comprehensive immigration once and for all. Only Congress can finish the job.”

– Cristóbal Alex, president of Latino Victory Project.

“Today’s victory is tremendous, but to be real, it is incomplete. Millions of Dreamers have siblings who have U.S. citizenship or green cards so their parents will qualify for this new program – and hundreds of thousands more Dreamers will now be eligible for protection. But too many of our parents, LGBTQ brothers and sisters and friends were left out. United We Dream doesn’t agree with that decision and we are determined to fight for their protection. Our community sticks together.”

– United We Dream Managing Director Cristina Jimenez.

“Although we still need action from Congress, executive action will help millions of people. It will also boost the economy, keep us secure and keep families together.”

– Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum.

“President Obama’s unconstitutional plan to reward millions of law-breaking foreign citizens with work permits is especially outrageous at a time of labor surplus and sustained wage depression for American workers and legal immigrants already here.”

– Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, an immigration control group.