Professor Peter Markowitz (third from podium) at the press conference on February 4 in Washington, D.C.

On February 4, 2014, Professor Peter Markowitz and two students from the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic, Thomas Chew '14 and Gilda Holguin '15, representing the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), filed a petition seeking a rule change from the Department of Homeland Services to suspend deportations.

The group used a provision of the Administrative Procedure Act to formally request that DHS expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to the fullest extent permissible under law, and to suspend deportations for immigrant workers and families who are likely future beneficiaries of immigration reform.

Under the law, agencies are required to allow members of the public to petition for the issuance of new rules or changes to or repeal of existing rules. DHS must provide a response to the petition and explain its decision to grant or deny petitioners’ request.

Referring to the significance of the petition drafted by the Immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo, NDLON Staff Attorney Jessica Karp explained, “After reading this document, there is no question whether the President can stop deportations. It shows that he can and he should. The only question left is, why hasn’t he? This petition presents the dilemma to DHS formally. It gives them to opportunity to correct years of reckless enforcement and also grant relief to immigrant workers and families who the President and leaders on both sides of the aisle all agree belong here.”

For Jose Luis Piscil of New Haven, CT, who is scheduled to appear in immigration court on March 16th, the petition is part of his urgent attempt to remain with his family after a wrongful arrest on charges that were quickly dismissed led to his placement in deportation proceedings under the federal Secure Communities deportation quota program. “The way they are currently enforcing their laws is creating nightmares in immigrants’ lives. I want to be here for my wife and two children, to provide for them and to see them grow up.  DHS uses discretion in its enforcement. I hope it will use it in my case and change their rules so that no one else faces what my family is going through.”

Many cite the “Sí se puede (Yes You Can)” rulemaking petition as the authoritative document on the President’s executive authority related to immigration enforcement.  It cites extensive precedent to demonstrate the historic use of discretion and the constitutional authority of the executive branch to determine how laws are implemented.

Thomas Chew '14 says, ““The Constitution gives the President unilateral power to determine when it is, and when it is not, in the national interest to initiate deportation proceedings. The only question that remains is whether this President will exercise his power to protect our nation’s immigrants and our nation’s economy from the devastation his immigration policies have wrought.”

See Gilda Holguin '15 interviewed on Univision about the petition.