San Diego supporters of President Barack Obama’s plans to protect millions of unauthorized immigrants nationwide from deportation said Tuesday they would not be deterred by a Texas federal judge’s order putting the plans on hold.
“Sí se puede,” Yes we can, chanted a crowd of about 50 demonstrators at Christ the King Community Catholic Church in San Diego. Participants included U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, immigration activists and representatives of labor groups.
Vargas and other speakers discounted the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen as a “bump in the road” in efforts to legalize the status of millions of unauthorized immigrants across the United States.
“We have to continue to push. In no way get your spirits down,” Vargas said. “We feel 100 percent that this judge is going to be overturned.”
The rally, organized by Alliance San Diego and the Service Employees International Union Local 221, came on the heels of Hanen’s order siding with Texas and 25 other states seeking to block the Obama administration’s executive orders.
The ruling freezes plans that starting Wednesday would have expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that protects young immigrants from deportation. Another program, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, which had been set to launch in May, would offer similar protection to parents of children who are U.S. citizens and permanent residents and who have been in the United States for several years.
Rally leaders were critical of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, for not joining an effort spearheaded by two Democrats, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, to file a brief in the Texas case supporting the president.
“We call on Mayor Kevin Faulconer … to stand up for his fellow San Diegans and do the right thing, not play politics with this issue and support our families,” said Richard Barrera, head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council.
A statement from Faulconer’s press office Tuesday said that the mayor “strongly supports comprehensive immigration reform.” The Texas judge’s ruling, the statement said, “demonstrates that the current approach is not providing the legal and legislative certainty that families in San Diego and across the country are looking for.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, was critical of the president, saying in a statement that the judge’s ruling “recognized the direct damage and irreparable harm that will be caused by President Obama’s unconstitutional executive actions.” Issa said that Obama’s proposal “is both bad for America and bad for the very people it purports to help, ultimately leaving them in legal limbo, rather than finally taking decisive action.”
Like Vargas, Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, sides with the president, said his spokeswoman, MaryAnne Pintar: “The congressman believes that the best course would be for the speaker of the House to let Congress do its job, and pass an immigration reform bill. In the absence of that, the president had to act.”