Immigrants 'Held Captive by Political Expediency,' Hispanic Evangelical Leader Says About Recent Court Decision Against Obama Immigration Plan

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, April 23, 2015. Obama on Thursday apologized for a counterterrorism operation in January that accidentally killed two aid workers held hostage by al Qaeda, American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto. |

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, told The Christian Post that a recent three judge panel decision against the Obama Administration's immigration policy executive action mean many immigrants will continue to suffer as political leaders struggle to resolve their differences on immigration reform.

A panel from an appeals court has denied the Obama Administration's request to lift an injunction barring the president's controversial immigration executive order from taking effect.

In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of the Appeals denied the Justice Department's request to lift an injunction given to Texas and 25 other states suing the Administration over the executive action.

Samuel Rodriguez
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez on the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission panel on "Hobby Lobby and the Future of Religious Liberty," at the Southern Baptist Convention, Baltimore, Maryland, June 9, 2014. |

"The current action of the court regarding immigration only exist as a result of the prolonged inaction by Congress. While the White House and the judicial branch continue to go back and forth, millions of individuals created in God's image continue to be held captive by political expediency," said Rev. Rodriguez.

"If only Congress can reconcile conviction with courage and pass legislation that will secure our borders, stop illegal immigration and provide a pathway to integrate those currently here in a non-amnesty manner where citizenship is earned while family unity stands secured. "

At the center of the suit was the federal government's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program, or DAPA.

"Because the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of the injunction, we deny the motion for stay and the request to narrow the scope of the injunction," read the decision.

"[The federal government] claims that the injunction offends separation of powers and federalism, but it is the resolution of the case on the merits, not whether the injunction is stayed pending appeal, that will affect those principles."

In November of 2014, President Barack Obama issued an executive action meant to safeguard an estimated four million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

obama immigration
Anti-deportation protesters chant in front of the White House in Washington August 28, 2014. The protest, organized by CASA, a non profit organization assisting immigrants, called on President Obama to stop deporting undocumented workers, parents and children. |

In a 15-minute televised address, Obama said his immigration plan will give four million people eligibility for a new legal status that temporarily prevents them from being deported and allows them to work.

Obama added that an additional one million people will also have a level of legal protection from deportation through other parts of his plan.

A major focus of the immigration plan was the children of those who entered the country illegally but were born or spent nearly all of their lives in the United States.

Often called Dreamers, under the plan teenagers and young adults could apply for protection from deportation and also have opportunity for legal employment.

Supporters considered the move a step in the right direction for immigration reform while critics charged that it was unconstitutional, with 26 states led by Texas suing the government over the matter.

The Evangelical Immigration Table, a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders who lobby for immigration reform, expressed divided positions on the Obama plan.

Rodriguez, who also serves as one of the leaders of the EIT, praised Obama's decision in a statement released not long after the announcement.

"The President's executive action, although not the preferable delivery mechanism, initiates a reconciliatory prescription necessary in addressing a defacto humanitarian crisis within our borders: millions of God's children created in his image living in the shadows," said Rodriguez.

Russell Moore, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and an EIT leader, denounced the executive order in a column.

"I disagree with President Barack Obama's decision to act unilaterally on immigration policy. I am for immigration reform, for all sorts of reasons that I have outlined elsewhere," wrote Moore.

"It's because of my support for immigrants and for immigration reform that I think President Obama's executive actions are the wrong thing to do."

In February, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the Southern District of Texas, Brownsville Division, granted the states a preliminary injunction against DAPA.

"This Court … finds that at least Texas has satisfied the necessary standing requirements that the Defendants have clearly legislated a substantive rule without complying with the procedural requirements under the Administration Procedure Act," wrote Judge Hanen.

The White House denounced the Hanen decision and vowed to appeal the injunction, saying in a statement released February that the judge's ruling "wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect."

"The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws — which is exactly what the President did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken," continued the statement.

The American Center for Law and Justice, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of Texas et. al., hailed the Fifth Circuit panel's decision to maintain the injunction.

"We at the ACLJ are extremely pleased that the appeals court reached this very reasonable and sound decision," wrote Jay Sekulow of ACLJ.

"We're confident the court ultimately will conclude that President Obama's overreach, in effect, changed the law — a violation of the separation of powers."

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