Immigration policies hang in the balance as U.S. Senate prepares for fight over Ginsburg’s successor

If civil and immigrant rights groups need a reminder of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s impact on immigration law, they don’t need to think back further than a few months ago.

Ginsburg, who died on Friday at 87, was one of five justices who ruled in June that the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program could continue after President Trump announced in 2017 that he was ending the program.

Though the liberal icon was rightfully recognized as a champion for women and the LGBTQ community, immigration attorneys said her passion for due process and civil equality extended to immigrants, and her death could impact hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their families in Texas.

“With this administration doing extreme action on immigration, certainly that’s created an ample pipeline of cases that could potentially come to the Supreme Court for resolution,” said Thomas A. Saenz, the president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF.

In addition to the future of DACA, the court could soon rule on the Trump administration’s public charge rule, which could block people from becoming legal permanent residents if they are deemed likely to become dependent on public services, the inclusion of non-citizens in the U.S. Census count and possibly the future of tens of thousands of immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and other countries currently living in the U.S. under Temporary Protective Status because of armed conflicts and natural disasters in their home countries.

“Many of those cases would be moot should there be a new president in January and that president were to rescind many of these regulatory and policy changes that Trump put in place,” said Saenz, who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 on another of former President Obama’s executive actions, 2014’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.


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