FilAm NGO angry, sad over Supreme Court tie
SAN FRANCISCO, USA – Supporters of the two major “pathways” to naturalization vowed to escalate efforts to give undocumented immigrants opportunity to legalize their presence in this country and ultimately fulfill their American Dream.
The United States Supreme Court on June 23, 2016 was deadlock on the constitutionality of US President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive orders shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation while in the process of legalization, drawing intense response from Filipino Advocates for Justice, a leading organization for immigrant rights in Northern California.
The Oakland-based nonprofit expressed “anger” and “sadness” in a statement issued shortly after the 4-4 tie on United States v Texas was announced. But it was quick to emphasize that it is “not defeated by the…split decision.”
The deadlock suspends the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). The case, which stems from a lawsuit filed by 26 Republican-led states with the U.S. District Court challenging the presidential orders, is believed to affect at least 5 million individuals in this country.
“This decision hurts because we fought hard to protect young people and families from deportation,” FAJ quoted Beatrice Sanchez, a DACA recipient. “But we are warriors. We will organize harder, raise our voices louder, and come together even stronger than before. This includes getting out the vote for leaders who will fight for the rights of immigrant communities.”
The case reverts to the lower court, for the moment, until the new president and a new Supreme Court justice are installed.
FAJ is encouraging applicants to remain optimistic and resume filing applications.
"This decision does not change the existing DACA program," said Rachel Aceberos, an immigration counselor at FAJ. "Eligible undocumented immigrants should continue to apply for and renew DACA in order to access its many benefits. For those who are DACA eligible, don't be discouraged. The more young people access DACA, the clearer it is that relief from deportation is needed and that we need a real legalization program."
Lillian Galedo, FAJ executive director, cited statistics reinforcing the significance of the two policies:
- 75 percent of DAPA and expanded DACA-eligible Californians have resided in the U.S. for more than a decade;
- 70 percent of all undocumented Californians live in a family with at least one citizen and/or Legal Permanent Resident;
- 9 percent of all minor children have at least one parent who is undocumented – and more than 80 percent of those children are U.S. citizens.
“DAPA- and expanded DACA-eligible residents have high rates of employment and are foundational to the larger California economy,” Galedo stressed.
“While this decision is a temporary setback, immigrant communities, our allies, and others committed to human rights will double our efforts to push for immigration policies that uphold the dignity of immigrants,” the FAJ statement concluded with a rallying cry.
“This is a call to action for the new American majority to use our vote this November to remove immigrant-hating legislators -- particularly governors - and replace them with public officials who recognize the contributions of and embrace immigrant communities.”
Last seek's decision was a “victory for the rule of law," said Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus.
Presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said the decision underscores “just how high the states are in this election.”
“I believe we are stronger together when we embrace immigrants, not denigrate them,” she said in a statement, reiterating her promise to expand Obama’s efforts to reform immigration.
That gave hope to San Francisco immigration lawyer Amancio “Jojo” Liangco, who is not sold on DACA and DAPA, which he calls “band-aid solutions” to a persistent problem.
What truly worries Liangco is the outcome of “Brexit,” the recently-concluded referendum to pull the United Kingdom from the European Union, and what he believes is the underlying reason for the clamor.
“I hope there won’t be a prevailing global nativist attitude around and in United States (as it seems in the United Kingdom),” he said. “Nativism and fear are the main enemies of our much-need immigration reform.”
In fact Donald Trump, the prospective GOP candidate who has promised to repeal the Obama orders, praised the results of the U.K. referendum, echoing proclamation by “Brexit” proponents as British “independence.”
“I think I see a big parallel ... people want to take their country back,” reporters in Scotland quoted the avowed immigration foe. He singled out pro-border control and anti-illegal immigration sentiment as factors in the pro-Brexit results and the U.S. presidential contest. U.K. and U.S. citizens do not want immigrants "pouring" in, he suggested.
“Advocates should focus on comprehensive immigration reform because this country’s backbone industries function on undocumented labor,” said Liangco. “For a First World nation, that should not be the case.”
Meanwhile FAJ praised the California State Legislature for passing the Dignity Not Detention Act (SB 1289) that “prohibits municipalities from contracting for-profit immigration detention companies requires all detention facilities in California to uphold humane standards, and allows immigrants to sue if their rights are violated.” – Rappler.com
San Francisco Bay Area-based journalist Cherie Querol Moreno is Editor at Large of Philippine News and columnist for Philippines Today.