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SCOTUS on Immigration

Today, on Monday April 18, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will hear oral arguments related to Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and extended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs. The expanded DACA program would allow an estimated 300,000 additional DREAMERs to qualify for deferred action. DAPA could potentially protect an estimated 4 million undocumented parents of 5 million U.S. citizen children and legal permanent residents. President Obama’s executive action has the potential to change the lives of millions of people. The Cabrera family is a great example of the impact of DACA and DAPA.

Impact of DACA/DAPA on the IJPC family

José Cabrera is IJPC’s Immigration Program Organizer and a current recipient of DACA. As a Mexican immigrant, his temporary status under DACA allows him to attend Xavier University, have a driver’s license, and a work permit. Under the current program, DACA is limited to immigrants who entered the U.S. before June 15, 2007 and who were born on or after June 16, 1981. Under the expanded program, new DACA-eligible immigrants would be able to qualify if they entered before January 1, 2010 regardless of their age. Many of the young people in IJPC’s YES (Youth Educating Society) program would benefit from this expansion and be able to contribute to society in a new way by having the opportunity to further their studies and support their families.

José’s mother, Maria, came to the U.S. in 1999. She is an incredible activist, three children, and is undocumented. Her two daughters, Esther and Karina were born in the U.S. and through them, Maria would qualify for DAPA. The new program would allow the undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children or permanent residents who have lived in the United States since January 1, 2010 to apply for “deferred action,” or protection from deportation. Those who receive DAPA will be safe from deportation and able to apply for work authorization to work legally in the United States for three years. Members in our YES program have similar mixed status family situations. Their siblings may have legal status but they and their parents do not.

What decisions will be made today?

Extended DACA (or DACA+) and DAPA will not solve all of our country’s immigration issues and comprehensive immigration reform is still necessary. Today, SCOTUS will only hear arguments on extended DACA and DAPA and have until the end of June to announce a decision. One portion of the hearing in the United States vs. Texas case is to decide standing – whether or not Texas (along with 25 other states, including Ohio) should have been able to file a brief in opposition to President Obama’s executive action or whether it is politically motivated. If they have standing, the court will need to decide if DACA+ and DAPA violate federal law. With only eight justices on the highest court, in the event of a 4-4 split, the ruling of the lower court stands which would mean DACA+ and DAPA would not be implemented.

IJPC continues to stand on the side of justice for the family of José and the many other immigrant families whose lives would significantly benefit from DACA+ and DAPA. We pray that the Justices of the Supreme Court will hear arguments today with open hearts and cognizant of the lives of millions of immigrants who will be impacted by their decision later this spring.

Statistics and information drawn from American Immigration Council, SCOTUSblog, and Migration Policy Institute.