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On the day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue, Southland immigration advocates rallied Monday in support of President Barack Obama’s executive orders extending deportation protection to an estimated 4 million people.

Dozens of activists gathered in front of the federal building in downtown Los Angeles, waving signs and chanting slogans such as “We are America.”

“We are waiting on this decision,” Polo Morales of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles told the crowd.”

Morales said the immigration issue should be on the minds of politicians, and their position on the the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is already in place to protect children who were brought to the country by their parents from deportation, will factor heavily among immigrant voters.

“This is what we’re talking about — the folks that are here that are benefiting from this program have citizen children that are eligible to vote,” he said. “So if you’re talking about getting rid of this program you’re also talking about the future of the next election. So how you talk about this program and how you support immigrants is going to (determine) whether you take that seat in the White House or not.”

In May 2015, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans upheld an injunction issued in February by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas. That injunction was issued in response to lawsuits filed by 26 states seeking to halt Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Those states argued that Obama overstepped his legal authority when he took the executive actions, insisting he does not have the ability to unilaterally set immigration policy.

The legal wrangling has suspended implementation of a program that would extend work permits and protection against deportation to parents of U.S.- born children and expand the existing program for immigrants who arrived illegally as children. The programs — often referred to by their acronyms, DAPA and DACA — would affect an estimated half-million Angelenos.

The three-justice panel ruled that the states had sufficient legal ground to bring suit and that the administration failed to show it would be harmed by further delays.

Los Angeles and nearly 120 other cities and counties across the country signed on to legal pleadings in support of Obama’s programs.

“Without the guidance, millions of families in our cities and counties face the threat of deportation, destabilizing our communities and jeopardizing the welfare of families and children,” according to the brief, which was co- drafted by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and New York City counterparts.

The brief also points to the potential “economic harm” of not allowing taxpaying immigrants to work and stay in the country. Obama’s executive policies are expected to inject as much as $800 million in “economic benefits” to state and local governments, according to the brief.

Local elected officials raised their voices in support of Obama’s actions.

“The Supreme Court decision that will stem from today’s oral arguments will affect millions of aspiring Americans who have already put down roots in our communities and are contributing to our economy,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D- Pasadena. “Tearing those families apart would be costly and contrary to our nation’s values. That is why members of Congress, governors, mayors and legal scholars from across the country have spoken out in support of these actions.”

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, called Obama’s actions legal and humane.

“If these actions take effect, more qualified immigrants will be able to come out of the shadows and contribute to our nation.  More families will be able to live in peace, free from fears of being torn apart.  I am confident the Supreme Court will affirm that President Obama has every right to take these executive actions,” she said.

The executive actions have been met with opposition from Republicans, who insist that Congress is responsible for crafting immigration laws.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich said earlier this year the Supreme Court should find the president “clearly lacks statutory authority to change the law without Congressional action.’

While Antonovich said he supports legal immigration as “vital to our nation’s economy and culture,” he added that “illegal immigration costs county taxpayers nearly $2 billion dollars a year and siphons resources away from services for legal immigrants and county residents.”

—Staff and wire reports

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