So the Fight Continues: Reflections on SCOTUS Striking Down DAPA/DACA extension
by Juan Pablo Blanco
In a 4-4 deadlock, the supreme court has killed President Obama’s attempt to provide deportation protections and the ability to work legally in the U.S. to up to 4.5 million immigrants who would have been eligible.
In United States V. Texas, the failure of the High Court to come to a decision means that the ruling of the Fifth Court of Appeals stands and the case will be sent back to a conservative judge in Brownsville, Texas. There is wide acceptance that the judge will rule against these executive measures. While the 2012 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program will continue to be active, both DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and the planned DACA expansion have been halted by the United States V. Texas case.
DAPA, which would have allowed for protections to be granted to parents of American citizens or permanent residents could have protected the 17 million people that currently live in mixed status families according to the Pew Hispanic Center. About 4.5 million children who are born in the U.S. have at least one undocumented parent, and families continue to be torn apart. While president Obama has repeatedly said that deportation should target “violent offenders and people convicted of crimes; not families, not folks who are just looking to scrape together an income.”, during the first six months of 2011 22% of the total number of people deported were parents who had at least one child who was an American citizen.
The court’s decision and subsequent failure of the DACA expansion would have removed the age cap that is currently enforced to apply, expanded the required date of entry from before 2007 to before 2011 and would have granted work authorization for three years instead of the current two. While this program would have offered no path to permanent residency or citizenship, the deportation protections and access to work permits they would have afforded would have been paramount in ensuring undocumented people access to dignified jobs with the same legal protections that most Americans already enjoy. In addition, in more than seventeen states DACA recipients have access to in-state tuition or federal financial aid, something which the people who were not able to meet the requirements of the 2012 program will still have no access to.
While this is definitely a setback, there are other legal avenues available. The case can come up to the Supreme Court again, either if a request of rehearing by the Department of Justice or through an appeal on the decision based on the merits - rather than the injunction that was at hand today. President Obama’s record breaking deportations still continue unabated and the use of immigration raids still continues to terrorize our communities. We need to keep putting pressure on our President to end these injustices against our communities and our people and focus on getting the presidential candidates for this coming election to recommit to these executive actions and provide us with the ways they plan to provide relief and protection to our undocumented brothers and sisters.
Some movements are even looking outside the legislative process to put pressure on our politicians to provide real change to our immigration policies and practices. Organizations and movements like the Cosecha Movement look at civil disobedience, mass strikes, boycotts and public ultimatums as the tools that will ensure this to happen.
No matter which way one thinks is more effective to create a just society in which the needs and dignity of our undocumented people are respected, we all need to be involved in some capacity.
Juan Pablo Blanco is an ardent Immigrant rights advocate active on many fronts with Mass JWJ and ROC Boston. By night, you will find him trying to make the Bass a cool instrument again.