Things That Matter

Luis Cortes Is The 31-Year-Old Dreamer Attorney Fighting To Save DACA In The Supreme Court Case

All eyes are on the Supreme Court right now. Thousands of people supporting the undocumented immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are at the steps of the highest court in the country, making sure the justices fully understand what is at stake. At the core of the issue is that the Trump Administration wants to do away with the Obama-era program that protects an estimated 700,000 undocumented people from being deported. On June 28, 2019, after months of litigation, the Trump Administration called to end the program went through the court of appeals. The Supreme Court agreed they would hear arguments for keeping DACA and would rule whether to uphold the rights of DACA beneficiaries or end the program altogether. That is where we are right now. The most incredible part about this whole aspect is not just the countless supporters for the DACA program, but the people on the front lines fighting to keep the program alive. 

Two lawyers will be speaking in front of Supreme Court judges in support of DACA, one Theodore Olson, a 79-year-old veteran lawyer, and Luis Cortes, a 31-year-old undocumented Latino lawyer.

Credit: @joshdroner / Twitter

So, while defending this matter is of great importance to the thousands who are protected under DACA and their family friends, this case is also a personal one for Cortes. The Mexican native from the state of Michoacán, who was just a year old when his family came to the U.S., said in an interview with the New Yorker that it’s great to have all the support now. Still, it was a very different case back when former President Obama first launched the program.

“The whole slogan you hear now—’undocumented, unafraid’—is somewhat new,” he said to the publication. “I remember when I was undocumented and very afraid.” He told the New Yorker that he was still in law school and felt pressured over disclosing so much information in order to get protection. 

“I was very incredulous about the whole thing,” Cortes said. “I was, like, They want us to give all of that information about ourselves to the government!”

Soon after Trump Administration began to crack down on undocumented people, even those supposedly protected under DACA, ICE detained one of Cortes’s clients. In early 2017, ICE arrested DACA beneficiary, Daniel Ramirez Medina, because they alleged he had ties to a gang. That matter is still under litigation

This case will be a defining one for Cortes because, on the one hand, he is representing clients to the Supreme Court, which is huge for his career, and on the other hand, the ruling of this case will determine if he will be able to remain in the country.

Credit: @stephberrryy / Twitter

“As a lawyer, I’m very stoked about it,” Cortes told the New Yorker. “I didn’t think I would have a Supreme Court case this early on in my career. But it’s also daunting. I’m going to be looking at the people who get to decide whether my clients are going to get deported, and me along with them.” He told CNN that he would be arguing the case on behalf of nine individuals and also himself. “A lot is at stake for me individually.”

Cortes said that protecting young people with DACA means more than just remaining in the country, but providing the livelihood for entire families. Undocumented people without DACA do not have the ability to get a social security card, which means they cannot obtain legal work. That means it is their children who face the harsh reality of helping those who sacrificed so much for them.

“The United States is an amazing place to live,” he told CNN. “Unlike any other place.”

Thousands of people, including CEOs, politicians, and celebrities, demand that the Supreme Court finally give DACA beneficiaries the proper protection they deserve.

Credit: @capimmigration / Twitter

In October, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a letter to the Supreme Court informing them they had hired 443 DREAMers because they deserved to have those jobs.

“Our country has enjoyed unparalleled success by welcoming people from around the world who seek to make a better life for themselves and their families, no matter their backgrounds,” the company said. “As a group, they tend to display levels of determination and resolve that would be the pride of any business. We could tell you 443 stories to illustrate these attributes.”

READ: Hundreds Of Universities, Cities, And Businesses File Amicus Briefs Urging The Supreme Court To Defend DACA

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As Republicans Move To Fill Supreme Court Seat, Julián Castro Says Democrats Should Consider Nuclear Option

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As Republicans Move To Fill Supreme Court Seat, Julián Castro Says Democrats Should Consider Nuclear Option

Gabriela Bhaskar / Getty Images

With the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, progressives are struggling to figure out their next move. Republicans have made it clear they don’t care about precedent or even following their own made up rules, and plan to attempt to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible.

Some Republicans have even gone as far as saying they’ll vote to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee even if he loses the November election, in a lame duck session of Congress.

This has Democrats in overdrive trying to figure out their game plan and how they’ll respond to Republican efforts to once again steal a Supreme Court seat.

Julián Castro says that Democrats should consider packing the court if they come into power come January.

In an interview with Buzzfeed’s News O’Clock podcast, this year’s only Latino candidate for president said that Democrats should consider adding more justices to the Supreme Court if Senate Republicans rush to confirm a justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. His announcement is a reversal from his stated position during the presidential campaign.

“For many of us, that wasn’t our preference, but the fact is you have Mitch McConnell not abiding by, not working in good faith under the Constitution. … If you have that kind of abuse of the system, then I think that, yeah, Democrats should be open to different ways that we can stave off draconian changes to our fundamental rights,” he said.

During last year’s presidential primaries, Castro said that he “would not pack the court” if we were elected president, but with reproductive rights, voting rights, and healthcare hanging in the balance, he now believes Democrats should consider structural reform to the court.

“When those are the stakes, and Mitch McConnell is the one who’s abused this system, then yeah, I think we need to be open to considering either adding more justices or other structural reforms that will prevent this kind of abuse in the future,” he said.

Nothing in the Constitution limits the number of justices that sit on the Supreme Court.

Credit: Sam Gateaux / Getty Images

Adding more justices to the Supreme Court, or “packing the court”, has become widely popular among progressives as they see it as a last resort to restoring equality to the court. And the only way in writing wrongs committed by Republican Senate leadership.

Obviously, one concern is that if the Democrats increase the court size when they have power, that the Republicans could expand it again when they regain power. And we would have a never ending saga.

But as the Democrats are once again outplayed and outmaneuvered by the GOP, many say it’s a risk worth taking.

Castro also warned that Biden was losing his traction with Latino voters.

Meanwhile, Castro has also expressed concern that the Biden campaign isn’t doing enough to win the support of Latino voters.

“I believe the campaign gets it in that they understand they have work to do,” Castro said, adding that he thinks that Biden will pick up Latino support by Nov. 3 because the campaign is now investing in voter registration, bilingual messaging across platforms, and tailored outreach to different Latino communities, rather than treating them as one unified voting block.

“The Latino community too often is invisible, it’s an afterthought,” said Castro, who was housing secretary under Barack Obama. “Even though it’s going to be the largest non-white voting group in 2020. I think in every way in American society … there’s this image of the Latino community as though everybody got here five minutes ago.”

Joe Biden’s campaign has “to make sure that they are doing everything they can to reach out to a community that already has one of the lowest rates of voting, that needs to be brought into the fold”, Castro said.

With 29 million eligible voters in 2018, or about 12.8% of the total, Latinos voted more than two-to-one for Democrats, according to Pew Research. That was a much lower rate than for the party’s key bloc, African Americans, who went 90%-9% for Democrats.

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Conservative Cuban-American Federal Judge Tops Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee List

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Conservative Cuban-American Federal Judge Tops Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee List

Supreme Court of Florida / Public Domain

Conservative Cuban judge Barbara Lagoa is said to be towards the top of President Donald Trump’s list of Supreme Court picks. If announced, Lagoa will then undergo a confirmation hearing to fill the seat vacated by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.

President Trump is reportedly considering two very conservative women to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s empty seat on the Supreme Court.

Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban-American federal judge, is one of the women President Trump is seriously considering for the Supreme Court nomination. Critics state that President Trump is trying to stack the court to rule conservatively for decades to come. Lagoa was the first Latina to be appointed to the Florida Supreme Court.

Politicians and political pundits are calling on the Senate to follow precedent they set in 2016. During President Obama’s last year in office, the Republican-led Senate refused to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court following the death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia in March. The argument was that the American people should have the right to decide who fills the seat since it is an election year. In 2020, the same Senate is committing to rushing a hearing as soon as possible.

Lagoa made a name for herself when she worked to fight Elián González’s deportation.

Lagoa, who currently serves on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, worked behind the scenes. Her role in the González fight was in making the argument against the Bill Clinton administration. The judge, like most Cuban-Americans at the time, was desperate to keep González in the U.S. having witnessed the trauma of the Cuban exile diaspora in Miami.

Her position on abortion is up for debate right now.

Lagoa hasn’t had to weigh in on the heavier issues because of her previous positions so it isn’t clear how she’ll rule on abortion matters. However, in her confirmation hearing last year for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, Lagoa answered question about Roe v Wade.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California asked Lagoa about the decision and how she would follow it.

“Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), is binding precedent of the Supreme Court and I would faithfully follow it as I would follow all precedent of the Supreme Court regardless of whether it is referred to as ‘super-stare decisis’ or ‘superprecedent,'” Lago wrote in response.

Lagoa did vote to make access voting harder for felons in Florida despite the people voting in 2018.

Lagoa was one of the voting members in the 6-4 ruling of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that created voting restrictions for felons. The decision was a key legal victory for the Trump administration and Republicans. Lagoa’s vote made it so that felons could only restore their voting rights if they pay their fees and fines, which the state of Florida is not responsible for telling or showing them how to pay them off.

President Trump is expected to make an announcement soon about who he is going to be nominating to the Supreme Court. A political battle is already brewing as both sides of the aisle fight for the seat.

READ: Latino Politicians And Celebrities Mourn The Death Of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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