The legal arguments inside the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on President Barack Obama’s immigration executive action are expected to draw heavy protests and demonstrations on Friday.
Immigration activists, labor leaders and others have been planning to be on site in New Orleans to protest the attempt by 26 states that sued to stop the actions and to support the so-called DACA and DAPA programs that could shield millions from deportation and allow them to work. Organizers were projecting about 500 demonstrators.
The New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) planned to gather hundreds to march from the 5th Circuit Court to Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in the city to protest raids by ICE as well as deportations.
“We can’t wait to secure DAPA in the courts while ICE is on our doorsteps every day,” said Fernando Lopez, an organizer with the NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers. “The president took action because undocumented workers and families took brave action in the streets.”
Groups that make up the Fair Immigration Reform Movement were to travel in buses from 20 states to demonstrate. Buses were traveling from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington State.
In a related hearing in April, protests outside the courthouse were so loud their chants could be heard in the courtroom.
Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., planned to attend the hearing.
"I want to be there to hear the arguments because the outcome of this case and its appeals will impact millions of people in the United States, and not just immigrants and their families," Gutierrez told NBC News.
"The policy is right ... because it focuses enforcement on bad actors, it makes immigrants come forward and take responsibility for being here and gives them a way to keep their families with U.S. citizen children together," Gutierrez said.
The states have challenged Obama’s actions as going beyond the limits of his presidential authority, but the administration has said the programs are part of its immigrant enforcement strategy to use limited resources to seek out immigrants that are threats to public safety and national security.
Related: Stymied Immigration Action Back Before Appeals Judges
Although the arguments are this week, a decision could take months and an appeal is expected regardless of the outcome. That is likely to push the issue further into the 2016 presidential race in which candidates already have been taking sides on Obama’s action.