Archive for the 'Immigration' Category

4th Circuit Declares Latest Version of Travel Ban Unconstitutional

Mr. Trump’s latest Travel Ban has been found unconstitutional.  The 4th Circuit upheld a Maryland District Court’s injunction in a 9-4 decision. The 4th Circuit ruled against the Travel Ban on the basis that the policy was a product of “animus toward Islam.” The majority argued that Mr. Trump’s statements during the 2016 election were evidence that Mr. Trump was unjustly discriminating against Muslims. The dissent believes that the Judiciary should only examine the official reasons given by the administration instead of the statements given by the President before the election or on Twitter.

The 4th Circuit had declared the first version of the Travel Ban unconstitutional in May 2017. The Ninth Circuit struck down the second version in December of 2017, for similar reasons. The 4th Circuit’s decision in May 2017 and February 2018 focused on discrimination against a religious minority. The Supreme Court removed the injunctions and is set to hear cases against the Travel Bans this April.

travel banDiscrimination against Muslims?

The majority found the Travel Ban unconstitutional because the intent behind it was an “animus toward Islam.” Such a determination would prevent Mr. Trump from ever enacting a Travel Ban during his time in office, but would not preclude a future President from enacting a similar ban. If a President Oprah Winfrey or President Kid Rock wanted to enact a Travel Ban, this court’s decision would not bar our new celebrity President from doing so.

Interestingly, the dissent did not dispute that Mr. Trump has an animus towards Islam. Presumably, the 45th President’s remarks in speeches and on Twitter speak for themselves: “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” or calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” The statements are somewhat ambiguous, since each statement apart could be about fighting radical Islamic terrorism. Nevertheless, it is telling that dissenting judges and government lawyers would prefer not to fight over the details.

Instead, the argument has been whether Mr. Trump’s statements are legally relevant. The majority believes they are, since they are evidence of the Executive Branch’s ill intent. The dissent claims they are irrelevant and that such scrutiny is beyond the court’s purpose.

Discrimination against the President?

A big flaw with the dissent’s argument is that this President constantly blurs his personal and his professional life. The President lets his sons handle his business organization instead of putting it into a blind trust as other Presidents have done. He lets his daughter attend meetings with foreign leaders and gives his son in law access to classified information even though said relative doesn’t have permanent security clearances.

He also uses both his personal Twitter account and his official Presidential Twitter Account to make statements regarding policy. The White House and the DOJ have insisted that the President’s Twitter statements are official statements.  Anything that comes out of the President’s Twitter account is an official statement regarding policies that the White House promotes, even if the Twitter rants contradict or harm the creditability of statements made by other Executive Branch officials.

The dissent is also wrong in asserting that courts will use any contradictory statements to “strike down executive action it disagrees with.” This President is unique. Mr. Trump chooses to engage in behavior that would harm policies he promotes. No President has repeatedly shot himself in the foot like Mr. Trump has. If judges penalize Mr. Trump for saying contradictory and short-sighted things, then that is this President’s problem, not the courts.

Furthermore, judicial demand that Presidents think before they speak or act is a good thing. If a President contradicts his own staff, then either the President is lying to the public or the state attorneys are lying to judges. Since judges must be fact finders before making a decision, Executive branch dishonesty impedes the judiciary from serving its proper function as arbitrator of the law. If state attorneys plan to argue that a policy is for national security, they should communicate with their boss to stick with the plan or risk losing.

Some Republican commentators’ opinion that judges who treat Mr. Trump differently than other Presidents are not behaving as judges. “When judges treat this president as anything other than normal…it sends a signal to the public that the chief executive is not as legitimate as his predecessors… It is true that Trump consistently disrupts all political norms. The courts should not respond in kind by disrupting judicial norms.”

The notion that discriminating against Trump is unconstitutional is absurd. The judiciary must determine if a policy is consistent with the constitution. If the Executive cannot give the judiciary consistent answers, then the policies must be suspect until the Executive can explain itself. The President should either change his behavior or expect his own power to wane. No other President has faced institutional challenges like this because no other President acts like this. Neither the judiciary nor the public should bury its head in the sand.

Judge Partially Blocks Trump Administration Attempts to End DACA

About a week ago, Judge Alsup out of San Francisco granted a temporary injunction in a case challenging the Trump administrations repeal of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Last September, President Trump had announced his administration would be rescinding DACA, a position that drew intense debate and ultimately led to lawsuits challenging the change.

DACA itself put rules into effect which were very similar to those originally proposed in the failed 2001 DREAM Act, thus leading to many recipients of DACA protections being known as “dreamers.” To summarize DACA, it essentially opened the door to immigrants who fell within a narrow set of restrictions to defer deportation proceedings while under DACA protection and get the paperwork in order (work permits, social security numbers, driver’s licenses) which would allow them to get a job and an education within the U.S.

Who Qualifies for DACA?

To qualify, immigrants needed to be under 16 when they entered the country, have lived in the country nonstop since 2007, be under 36 years old, have or be in the process of getting a high school degree or equivalent, have no serious crimes on their record, and more. DACA did not provide citizenship to these immigrants, but rather simply offered lawfully present status. However, even with these strict requirements and no actual citizenship on offer, the DACA program provided protection to nearly 800,000 people. Many of these people now have businesses of their own, serve in our military, and more.

What is President Trump’s Position on DACA?

President Trump’s repeal took DACA protections off the table and prevented further protections from being granted as of a few months back. It also had the potential to eventually simply strip the protection promised by the federal government entirely.

Trump’s position on it has been a bit odd. Despite his hardline stance on immigration in his campaign, he has occasionally come out in support of DACA only to take a total 180 on the issue days later. In the very month he repealed DACA he tweeted: “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!”

Even in more recent discussions on the topic, Trump has been reported as asking lawmakers if there was “anybody here not for taking care of the DACA recipients.” Trump’s positions tend to generally be very harsh on both immigration and immigrants, so these statements have seemed more than a bit odd.

DACARegardless of Trump’s statements, his actions have moved to kill its protections. These moves led to lawsuits challenging the appropriateness of this action in many different federal courts and from many different plaintiffs. One of these exact lawsuits is the one Judge Alsup ended up ruling on.

Judge Alsup’s Ruling

The lawsuit in question challenged the repeal of DACA using claims under the Administrative Procedure Act, essentially alleging that the repeal of the program was done arbitrarily and without proper planning or following proper legal procedures.

As an injunction ruling, the plaintiffs needed to show Judge Alsup that they were likely to ultimately succeed in their arguments that DACA was ended arbitrarily, that the harm of ending DACA was greater than the harm to the government of continuing it, and that public interests were in favor of continuing DACA. Judge Alsup ruled that plaintiffs had established all of this.

Immigration is a topic that falls squarely in the powers of the executive. However, the APA requires that an action be set aside if it is done “without observance of procedure required by law.” Some changes which do not represent general statements of policy require a notice and comment period before changes are put in place. Due to the substantial impact on those outside the agency, everybody who has received DACA protection over the last 5 years, the Judge determined that this was a case that likely merited a notice period before taking action and was properly judiciable even though the topic was one historically within the power of the President to effect change on.

In discussing the issue, Judge Alsup pointed to the Trump Administration’s odd approach to the topic of DACA. The fact that Trump had tweeted the same night as it was repealed that he wanted Congress to make a permanent version of DACA or he’d revisit the issue in six months. He pointed to the tweets Trump had previously made on the topic. According to Judge Alsup, this supported the assertion that it was likely the Trump Administration had reached their decision based on a flawed legal premise, a situation which legally makes the action arbitrary for APA purposes.

The Judge also pointed to substantial research, court rulings, and administrative rulings made supporting it and the benefits of DACA over the last five years and earlier. The court also noted factual errors in arguments presented by the Trump administration criticizing DACA and supporting appeal. The ruling also questioned the Trump administrations arguments that DACA was put in place illegally in the first place, pointing to numerous rulings and legislative history supporting the executive’s power to do this. All this taken together was used to rule that it was likely that repealing it was arbitrary.

The Court also pointed to Trump’s occasional support as part of its arguments, along with the many benefits DACA provided to immigrants and others, that public interest favored an injunction for the repeal. The Judge also felt that there was serious harm to DACA recipients if the repeal continued as planned before litigation was completed, arguing that “DACA gave [immigrants] a more tolerable set of choices, including joining the mainstream workforce…Now, absent an injunction, they will slide back to the pre-DACA era and associated hardship.”

The final ruling on the matter has barred the Trump administration from ending DACA completely. However, it is not a total stop on the DACA repeal. The ruling allows the government to continue denying DACA recipients the right to return to the U.S. from abroad and does not require them to accept new applicants. They do, however, must resume accepting DACA renewal applications. This is still a huge move, it potentially forestalls deportation for hundreds of thousands of dreamers.

The Broader Political Picture and This Case Moving Forward

As of now, the Department of Homeland Security has taken essentially no action on making a move to begin following the changed guidelines of Judge Alsup. In fact, their website still has a statement in big red letters exclaiming “DACA is ending.”

This is perhaps no surprise as the Trump administration has already begun their appeal process. They’ve begun the appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and have additionally taken the relatively rare step of petition the Supreme Court to preemptively intervene on the issue. The Supreme Court may or may not choose to hear this case before the 9th Circuit. However, they usually wait for the action of the appeals court.

The lower courts are also continuing to hear similar cases on the issue which the Supreme Court may choose to let play out before making a move on the cases. Just last Friday, Judge Alsup made another ruling in a related case saying that it was plausible that the Trump administration had acted to end the DACA program based on racial animus towards the Latino community.

The ruling also comes at a politically inconvenient time for the Trump administration. It came alongside ongoing negotiations and discussion between Trump and both sides of the aisle in Congress on how to proceed on it from a legislative standpoint. These discussions go over how to, how much, and whether to extend some sort of protections to the young people DACA originally sought to protect.

Just last week, Trump told Congress he would support protecting dreamers, potentially even opening a pathway to citizenship, in exchange for support in funding his wall and moves to end sponsorship programs bringing family members of immigrants to the U.S as well as several visa programs. The issue is obviously very contentious between Republicans and Democrats as is, this ruling has thrown an additional question mark as to the leverage of the Trump administration in these negotiations.

This is one of many rulings to come and far from the final word on even this case. However, it is a precursor to a much larger discussion on immigration law that will unfold over the next year. As it is, it is good news for DACA dreamers looking to renew their status. However, it is far from the clean DACA Act these dreamers would hope for to take them out of limbo and far from the crackdown DACA opponents would want. As the case develops, we’ll have to see who ends up with cause to celebrate.

Understanding California’s Sanctuary State Bill and it’s Impact on Local and Federal Law Enforcement

Last October, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 54, or California Values Act, a law that would make California a sanctuary state. The new law went into effect after the New Year arrived. Although the effect and constitutionality of most new laws is often uncertain, California’s Sanctuary State law is actually easier to understand than most:

What Does It Mean to Be a Sanctuary State?

The California Values Act would prohibit California law enforcement agencies from using either personnel or funds to hold, question, or share information about people with federal immigration agencies. The new law provides a number of exceptions, such as conviction of one or more offenses from a list of 800 crimes outlined in the California Trust Act, including child abuse and drug trafficking.

In a non-sanctuary city or state, local police submitted the fingerprints of all persons booked in state or local jails to the federal government. If Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) flagged a person as an illegal immigrant, the federal agency could ask the local jail to hold them until ICE could pick them up for federal detainment.

sanctuary stateUnder California’s new law, local and state police would be barred from submitting any and all fingerprints to ICE or providing any other free range assistance. Local and state police would only be permitted to submit a detainee’s fingerprint if the detainee had previously been convicted of a certain crime.

Are There Any Other Restrictions on California’s Law Enforcement?

Local and state police cannot give federal agents free access to personal information. All law enforcement agencies will be required to produce annual reports on their participation with federal agencies and how many people they transferred to immigration authorities during the year.

What are California Law Enforcement Allowed to Do?

As mentioned earlier, local and state police are still permitted to work with federal immigration efforts if the detainee was previously convicted of a serious crime, such as child abuse. Federal agents are still permitted access to state prisons and jails for the purpose of questioning immigrants. Finally, California cannot prohibit the federal government itself from entering the state and finding illegal immigrants. The sanctuary law only applies to state law enforcement because California only has power over state and local law officers.

Why Would a City or State Provide Sanctuary for Illegal Immigrants/Undocumented Persons?

State and local sanctuary laws would be justified for three different reasons: First, California has authority over its own police officers and can therefore decide whether its officers should work with the federal government or not. Second, state lawmakers believe that this measure would reduce local crime. Illegal immigrants might be hesitant to report crimes to police if they believe they will be deported as a result. Sanctuary laws would provide cover to illegal immigrants to report a robbery in progress or any information they might have about a crime that was committed. Finally, most governments are obsessed with documenting everything. Documenting state interactions with federal agencies might be valuable information for future reference.

What Does This Mean For Illegal Immigrants/Undocumented Persons?

The law would protect the private information of most persons in California if he or she were arrested, since state and local police would be barred from sending it to the federal government without showing the proper cause. Additionally, merely talking to local police would no longer be automatic grounds for deportation. Of course, if the illegal immigrant were convicted of a prior serious crime, the state police would still be permitted to contact ICE or other federal immigration enforcement.

Are Sanctuary Laws Constitutional?

California is currently engaged in numerous lawsuits with the federal government over its sanctuary laws. Most legal experts predict that California would prevail on whether it can prohibit its police from working with the federal government. The Supreme Court has ruled that while the federal government can bribe states into doing what it wants, the federal government cannot force them into taking certain actions.

The Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act is an example of this: Originally, Obamacare as passed required that states expand their Medicaid coverage. The Supreme Court tweaked the law so that the coverage would be optional rather than mandatory because the federal government did not have to power to force states to accept Medicaid coverage, even if the federal government was paying for the expansion.

Similarly, the federal government cannot require that California (or any other state) work with ICE or other immigration enforcement agencies. A state can choose to cooperate with the federal government if it wants to, but if the state decides to close the door, that’s the state’s decision to make.

What Problems Could the Sanctuary Law Pose In the Future?

ICE has countered by threatening to make more public raids, including in schools and courthouses. The latter would likely raise further constitutional challenges, since such actions would impact a state’s ability to administer its legal system – a severe breach of state sovereignty. California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye had previously condemned ICE agents for disrupting state court proceedings by arresting people inside California courthouses. Increased raids would disrupt state courts ability to call witnesses and prosecute crimes unrelated to immigration.

Travel Ban 3.0: Third Time the Charm?

The Supreme Court has granted the federal government’s request to fully enforce the set of restrictions known as the “travel ban” while the Appeals Courts hear the merits of the ban. The Court ruled 7-2 that individuals from eleven countries could be prevented from entering the country. There’s a lot of confusion about how the ban works, what exceptions exist, and the arguments being made. The full order can be found here. Here’s a quick FAQ to break everything down:

Which Countries Are On the List?

Individuals from the following eleven countries are prohibited from entering the United States: Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, and Chad. That means the U.S. will not approve Visas for people traveling on passports from those eleven countries.

Who Does the Ban Apply To?

The third version of the travel ban suspends the following visas:

Chad – Only B-1 business and B-2 tourist visas are suspended. All others, including F and M visas for students and H visas for temporary workers, are not suspended.

Iran – Only F and M student visas and J visitor visas are permitted to enter the country.

Libya – Only B-1 business and B-2 tourist visas are suspended. All others, including F and M student visas and H visas for temporary workers, are not suspended.

North Korea – All entry is suspended.

Syria – All entry is suspended.

travel banVenezuela – The B-1 business and B-2 tourist visas of certain government officials and agencies from Venezuela are suspended.

Yemen – Only B-1 business and B-2 tourist visas are suspended.

Somalia – All entry of immigrants is suspended (immigrants are individuals who intend to permanently reside in the United States).

Are There Any Exclusions or Exceptions?

There is a difference between an exclusion and an exception. An exclusion occurs when the law is written in a way so that the law doesn’t apply to that person. For example, the ban on Chad and Yemen suspends business and visitor visas. Student visas are not included in the suspension. Therefore, students are excluded from Chad and Yemen suspensions.

An exception is when the law does apply to that person, but the law suspends the application to that person. The travel ban currently has the following list of exceptions:

  1. Any lawful permanent resident of the United States.
  2. Any foreign national admitted into the United States who entered between the first and second versions of the travel ban and the current one (paraphrased).
  3. Any foreign national who has a document other than a visa that is valid between the first and second versions of the travel ban and the current one (paraphrased).
  4. Dual citizens traveling on a passport issued by a country not on the travel ban list.
  5. Any foreign national traveling by a diplomatic visa.
  6. Any foreign national granted asylum by the United States or protection by the Convention against Torture, or any refugee already in the United States.

For example: Although business visas from Chad are suspended, a duel citizen of Chad and France could claim an exception to the business visa ban if that person also had a passport issued by France. In contrast, a person holding a student visa from Chad would still be allowed to enter regardless of dual citizenship because that person was excluded from the ban.

What are the Differences between Each Version of the Travel Ban?

The first version, Executive Order 13769, was signed by Mr. Trump on January 27, 2017. It banned individuals from seven different countries, all with Muslim majorities. The ban would have lasted for 90 days for non-refugees and 120 days for refugees from those countries. The ban left a loophole from refugees of “religious minorities.” This version was suspended by federal judges and the administration rescinded the order a few days later.

The second version, Executive Order 13780, was signed in March 16, 2017. This version removed Iraq from the list and dropped the “religious minority” exception, but kept the 90 days non-refugee and 120 day refugee expiration dates. Federal judges suspended this second version until the Supreme Court allowed a partial ban to go into effect on June 26. The Supreme Court added a “bonafide” exception, whereby persons would be allowed to enter the U.S. if they had a genuine and sincere reason to be in the country, including family.

The third travel ban, Proclamation 9645, ended the expiration dates, removed Sudan from the list, and added North Korea and Venezuela. The Supreme Court’s December 4th order allows this version of the ban to go into full effect without the bonafide exception.

Can a District Court Judge Stop an Executive Order Nationwide?

The first two travel bans were enjoined by District Courts in Hawaii and Washington State.  District Court judges who issued the nationwide injunctions, the lowest judges in the federal judiciary, have been criticized for exceeding their powers. It seems absurd that the lowest member of the judicial branch can stop the highest member of the executive branch.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65 gives District Court judges the power to issue preliminary injunctions before trial to ensure that the status quo remains while the case is being heard. There is no restriction as to the scope of the injunctions. The Supreme Court writes the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure subject to Congressional approval. Since neither the Supreme Court nor Congress has seen fit to narrow the scope of the District Court judges’ powers as to injunctions, the judges’ retain the power to issue nationwide injunctions on behalf of the Supreme Court.

The Trump Administration is not the first one to complain about the power of District Court judges. The Obama Administration also filed appeals when judges in the Fifth and Sixth Circuits blocked President Obama’s deferred action programs. The judges in those circuits upheld the District Court judges’ right to issue nationwide injunctions.

As the Fifth and Sixth Circuit Appeals Courts pointed out, it makes sense to issue nationwide injunctions in immigration cases. If the injunction were merely limited to the state in which the District Court sits or to the Circuit Court hearing the case, the immigrant could simply choose a different state or circuit to go to. Since immigration is a national issue and one of the parties is usually the federal government, a nationwide injunction would preserve uniformity of federal immigration law. The federal immigration policy of Hawaii cannot be different from the federal immigration policy of Texas or New York. Nation-wide injunctions are the only way District Courts can preserve the status quo without creating different federal immigration policies for different states.

So is the Travel Ban Constitutional Now?

Although the Supreme Court has lifted the lower court’s ban on the travel ban, the Court has yet to rule on its constitutionality. Given that the decision to lift the injunctions was a 7-2 decision, the ban does stand a decent chance of surviving. However, both the Ninth Circuit and the Fourth Circuit need to hear arguments and render separate rulings before the Supreme Court will hear arguments. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, a final ruling on the travel ban will likely come out in middle to late 2018.

Teenage Illegal Alien Right’s to an Abortion: The ACLU’s Lawsuit

A lawsuit over a 17-year-old illegal immigrant’s right to get an abortion has seen many twists and turns since it was brought by the ACLU a little over a month ago–the most recent of which happened only days ago. The girl in question, known only as Jane Doe in court documents, was caught crossing the border in September and learned shortly after while at an immigration detention center specifically for illegal alien minors that she was pregnant. She did not want to carry her pregnancy to term however, following Trump administration policies, the detention center refused. They instead took her to religious counseling sessions to convince her not to get an abortion and to a clinic to get ultrasounds of the fetus which they then showed to her.

All this is part of a policy implemented in March requiring approval from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement before a shelter can release a non-citizen minor to get an abortion or abortion-related service. The director of this office, Scott Lloyd, has long been outspoken in his condemnation of abortion and women who get abortions. He has made public announcements, in the wake of the policy, that he would allow no abortions whatsoever for and only allow release for “pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling.” Texas officials have made it clear that they also will allow no abortions.

Under Texas law, a minor requires either parental approval or court approval before receiving an abortion. However, even after receiving court approval to get an abortion, the shelter Jane Doe was staying at refused to take her to a clinic where she could get an abortion. After this, the ACLU brought a lawsuit on behalf of Jane Doe to secure her right to an abortion and challenge the policy itself.

This is a matter that has seen very little litigation, so there were quite a few eyes on the case ruling. Just weeks ago, the court ruled on the issue in favor of the ACLU–leading to a twist in the case before an appeal was brought. Let’s look at the lawsuit, the ruling and this most recent twist in order to understand what this case means for the rights of illegal aliens to an abortion.

The ACLU Lawsuit

As we discussed earlier this week, illegal aliens have quite a few constitutional rights including 1st, 4th, 5th, and Equal Protection Act protections. This, along with the obligations of the government to take care of unaccompanied minor illegal aliens–an obligation which the government has recently been found in breach of–formed the cornerstone of the ACLU’s case.

The ACLU argued that the policy violated First and Fifth amendment rights by forcing these minors to receive approval before gaining access to an abortion–something far beyond the usual constitutional protections granted to citizens under the law. This is especially true because the policy provides no explicit exceptions, even for victims of rape. They argued that this, along with forcing minors to attend religious counseling discouraging abortions and requiring them to get approval from either parents or a sponsor before getting an abortion, violated the Fifth Amendment right to privacy. They argued they violated the First Amendment by compelling unaccompanied immigrant minors to discuss their decisions to have abortions. The lawsuit also alleged that requiring religious counseling violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

ACLUThe Flores agreement  is a government agreement which requires the government to provide care for unaccompanied illegal alien minors up to a certain minimum standard. This includes a requirement to provide medical care, specifically including family planning services and emergency health care services. The lawsuit argued that the government policy did not live up to these obligations.

The District Court’s Ruling

The federal district court sided with the ACLU, signing an order allowing Jane Doe to receive an abortion. The judge in the case called both the shelter’s actions and the policy itself “shocking” and “unconstitutional.”

To make the ruling simple, the decision essentially came down to the court stating that it is well established as unconstitutional to outright deny access to abortion–whether it is applied to a citizen or an illegal alien. By following the state rules of Texas when it comes to receiving an abortion, Jane Doe had the equal protection of the law and was constitutionally allowed to receive an abortion.

The order required the shelter to “promptly and without delay” transport Jane Doe to the nearest abortion clinic and allow her to obtain an abortion.  It is important to note however that the order does not yet extend to challenging the policy.

The Case Takes a Twist

The government refused to comply with the court’s order, and appealed the case. However, the appeals court supported the lower court ruling–although they delayed the abortion slightly to seek a sponsor for Jane Doe. This delay was potentially a serious issue for Jane Doe. Texas law does not allow nearly any abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, at 15.5 weeks Jane Doe was nearing the point where the case would become moot.

Even after this, the government made it clear that they would take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. They argued that there is no established constitutional right to an abortion while in federal custody. They also interpreted the rules of the Flores agreement to require the care of all minors in their custody–including unborn fetus’ such as Jane Doe’s. This is an interpretation supported by no case law. In fact, the rulings on the status of a fetus two months into a pregnancy tend to go the other way.

However, here came the twist. Before the government made any further filing to seek a stay on the court’s order requiring them to allow an abortion, the ACLU moved up Jane Doe’s clinic appointment, changed it from a counseling appointment to an actual abortion, and Jane Doe got the abortion she wanted.

As mentioned above, Texas law does not allow nearly any abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, so the clock was ticking for Jane Doe. However, the government has taken affront to the ACLU’s actions. While the ACLU argues they were under no obligation to wait for the government to decide to act while Jane Doe ran out of time, the government has sought sanctions against the ACLU lawyers and argue that the lower court ruling should be vacated due to their actions.

The Case Moving Forward

Jane Doe got her abortion. In a statement afterword she said that nobody should be shamed for making the right decision for themselves. However, the case is not over. There has been no movement on the government’s requests as of now. What’s more, and most importantly, the central question of the case has not been thoroughly addressed.

These ruling imply that, at minimum, non-citizens have a right to the same protections of state abortion laws the same as citizens would have. However, the exact outlines of these rights have not been fully explored–the rulings in this case are rather brief. The ACLU will continue its battle against the policy of the Trump administration regarding illegal alien abortions. It seems quite likely that the question will eventually reach the Supreme Court as many are discussing the case as the largest abortion case since Trump took office. Jane Doe is also not the only plaintiff in the ACLU’s case, it was brought on behalf of all similarly situated people. This is not the last we will hear of this case or this issue. As of now, the trends say that non-citizens have the same rights to an abortion as anybody else.