The immigration debate continues across the country, from Austin to Washington, D.C. and now here in El Paso.
The county voted 4 to 1 to sign a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the federal government in the case of State of Texas et al v. United States of America et al. It centers around President Obama’s controversial executive order on immigration.
The day before it was set to take effect, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton made a move to stop Obama’s executive order expanding the legal status of certain undocumented immigrants. That injunction is still going through a long legal process to determine if the president’s plan was legal or not.
County Judge Veronica Escobar said she pushed for the county to sign onto the amicus brief out of New York because the suit Texas is pursing doesn’t represent the views or needs of El Paso.
“That happened without consultation with local communities,” Escobar said. “Like Dallas County, like Travis County, like El Paso County and others. And so what we’re saying is here’s the local communities view.”
Escobar said there are three main arguments the county supports in the brief: that taking people out of the immigration shadows makes the entire community safer, legalized status leads to employment that helps the local economy, and re-unifying families improves quality of life in our community.
“We actually support the order and here’s why,” Escobar said.
Commissioner Andrew Haggerty voted against signing onto the brief. He said there wasn’t enough time to review the 35 page document, along with concern the president’s order might not even be legal.
“The fear is the amnesty kind of thing,” Haggerty said. “I mean, create a floodgate of people coming over. We have to do everything by the law, and the way the law’s set up right now, enough states have been against this to say we need to make sure of what’s going on.”
According to the county attorney’s office, the proposed amicus brief has not been finalized yet, and is still considered privileged as attorney-work product. It will be released after the brief is filed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sometime around April 6th.