By KARINA BROWN
PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – Parents of U.S. citizens who have been in the country for decades have sued the federal government, claiming a Texas ruling limiting the Obama administration’s guidelines on granting protection from deportation doesn’t apply to Oregon residents.
Eleven parents say the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services rejected their applications for three-year protections from deportation under the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.
The department claimed plaintiffs weren’t qualified for legal status under the program because they are all over the age of 31. But the parents say the rejections were based on a Texas case where they weren’t represented, and that the court’s ruling in that case was too broad and didn’t apply to them.
In 2012, Janet Napolitano, then the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announced a program to protect immigrants from deportation for renewable two-year periods if they arrived in the United States as children, had no serious criminal history and attended school. The program also allowed them to work.
In November 2014, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced an expansion of the program to include the parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who arrived in the country before 2010 and have no serious criminal record.
The program allowed those parents to work and apply for a social security card.
Two weeks later, Texas and 13 other states sued to stop the new rules. Eight more states later joined the suit, but Oregon was not a party to the lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen ordered the program halted nationwide, even though the plaintiff states did not file a class action.
Hanen then ordered the government to file under seal a list of names, addresses and alien registration numbers for every person who had already gotten deportation protection under the program.
He also ordered all government attorneys who had appeared on behalf of a plaintiff state in the case to attend five years of legal ethics classes. He later stayed those orders.
The parents say Homeland Security erroneously applied the Texas ruling to them, even though they are Oregon residents. Now, they will have to wait years for the resolution of a case in another state and to which none of them were a party.
Only then will they find out if they can work to support themselves and their families and whether they get to stay in the state they consider home, where they have lived for decades, and where their children live, they say.
The parents say the court should overturn the suspension of the program in the cases of Oregon residents.
Joanne Ferreira, spokeswoman with the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, said she couldn’t comment on pending litigation.
Jonathan Gonzales is representing the plaintiffs. He refused to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed Nov. 10.