Immigrant rights activists in Texas have thrown a Hail Mary at the state’s Latina first lady, in the hopes that she’ll persuade her husband, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, to drop his lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. A group of activists protested Thursday outside an event where Cecilia Abbott, the first lady, was scheduled to speak, the Latin Post reported.
The activists said they handed Texas state Sen. Sylvia Garcia a letter for Abbott, whose grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, urging her to encourage the governor to meet with Latinos and immigrant families about the lawsuit that has blocked initiatives of Obama that would defer deportation actions and extend work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants.
"We're hoping to appeal to her as a mother," said Margarita Rivera, member of pro-immigration reform group Texas Organizing Project. River is also mother of three U.S.-born daughters and would be qualified for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. "As a mother, I worry every day that a chance encounter with the police is going to lead to my deportation and separation from my family. As a mother, she must understand our struggle to keep our families together and safe."
It wasn’t clear Thursday if Cecilia Abbott received the group’s letter, which also asked the governor to drop his lawsuit against DAPA and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The first lady has a 33-year marriage with the governor, who filed the lawsuit during his tenure as Texas attorney general, with 25 other Republican-led states. They included Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
DAPA and the expanded DACA would have expanded an early deferred action program to approximately 4.9 million eligible undocumented immigrants. The program was set to take effect last month. More than 787,000 have already been approved through the initial round of DACA, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
As a result of the lawsuit filed in Texas, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen placed a temporary injunction on the deferred action programs and barred the federal government from implementing the plans. The Obama administration lost its appeal of that injunction last week.
Gov. Abbott has argued that Obama abandoned his responsibility to preserve and protect the U.S. Constitution when he announced his latest immigration executive action last November. "We live in a nation governed by a system of checks and balances, and the president's attempt to bypass the will of the American people was successfully checked again today,” Abbott said after a U.S. Court of Appeals denied the Obama administration’s request to implement the program.