Awaiting Decision on Obama’s Deferred Action Initiatives
The future of nearly five million undocumented immigrants is now in the hands of the Supreme Court. This week, the eight justices heard arguments both for and against the United States v. Texas case brought by a coalition of 26 states that oppose the implementation of President Barack Obama’s executive actions.
A decision by the Supreme Court is expected by this coming June, although what that decision will be is still unclear. Immigration analysts feel that the Court will be divided between liberal and conservative Justices, but a five-vote majority would be needed to keep the plaintiffs from rescinding the immigration reliefs. In the event of a four-four tie, the injunction would remain in effect, but for now all we can do is wait.
“It is possible that they will change their minds over the coming weeks as they analyze the arguments presented to them”, stated Pedro Rios, Director of San Diego’s American Friends Service Committee. “It remains to be seen, it is a complicated situation, because the Justices seem to be divided.”
In November, 2014, President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative in response to Congress keeping him from fulfilling his promise to have immigration reform.
It is estimated that 115,000 people in San Diego and Imperial counties would qualify for DACA and DAPA.
The issue has been at the forefront during the current presidential election campaigns. Just this week, Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders reiterated their commitment to fight for the implementation of these programs that would protect immigrants from deportation.
On the other side of the aisle, Republican contenders Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have expressed themselves in favor of ending undocumented immigration and deporting those who are in the United States without proper status.
In light of the upcoming administration change, activists acknowledge that there is fear as to what could happen with Obama’s executive actions should a Republican take Office, although they doubt that if that happens it would be easy to do away with these programs.
“The risk [of having executive actions rescinded] is always there, but that they actually would, remains to be seen,” stated Rios.
For now, immigration rights advocacy organizations in the region insist on those who qualify for these programs to remain optimistic and start getting their documentation ready now so they can apply for the relief. To that end, the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium has launched ListoYaSanDiego.org, a website that provides information regarding the DACA and DAPA programs, as well as legal assistance and citizenship requirements.
Pedro Rios believes that, in these times of uncertainty, the best weapon for immigrants is to stay informed and know their rights so they can protect themselves from deportation. “If it turns out that the Supreme Court does not decide in favor of immigrants, that should not dampen the efforts already made toward policy changes, but rather strengthen the need to keep fighting for better bills and laws.”