In a press conference Thursday regarding the block of certain 2014 immigration reforms ordered by President Barack Obama, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray joined immigrant rights organizations and emphasized that city officials neither ask nor give information about people’s immigration status.
One such immigrant is Daniela Murguia, who arrived in the U.S. just before starting sixth grade. She had come with her family from Mexico, because her parents wanted the children to have better opportunities.
When the U.S. Supreme Court’s tie vote effectively maintained the existing temporary injunction against the 2014 reforms, Murguia said she woke her mother to tell her the news.
“She just started crying. She wasn’t able to go back to sleep. It’s been what – since 8 in the morning,” Muguia said. “Her telling me, ‘I’m sorry for bringing you here. I’m sorry for making this to you guys.’ It was just a series of her feeling guilty.”
She said they had a spark of hope in 2014, when in November 2014, Obama announced several immigration reforms.
Among the different initiatives, two programs were challenged in court:
-Expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals): This would have expanded an existing program that began in 2012. The expansion would have allowed anyone who arrived in the U.S. before reaching the age of 16, and who has lived continuously in the U.S. since January 1, 2010, to apply for a legal work permit. This protection from deportation would have lasted three years and could be renewed.
-DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans): This would have allowed parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, as long as they have continuously lived in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 and have passed required background checks.
Neither of these programs would allow for permanent, legal status.
Ela Tinoco would have qualified for DAPA. She has lived in the U.S. nearly half her life.
Speaking through a translator, Tinoco said, “In my opinion, all of these months the Supreme Court has dedicated to reviewing this lawsuit has now been thrown away. Because nobody will win as a result of this decision.”
Tinoco said she is conscious of the fact that she came into this country without papers.
“But what else are we expected to do, when our permits are vetoed, for people like me, that come fleeing violence, internal conflicts, poverty, corruption, inequality and lack of opportunities in our country. Really, we have no other options,” she said.
The challenges to these programs began in Texas, where a temporary injunction was allowed. That was appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where justices agreed with the lower court.
That was further appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where on Thursday, justices announced a 4-4 tie.
The issue now returns to federal district court in Texas, where a permanent injunction will be discussed. It is possible that if a permanent injunction is granted, appeals could once again reach the U.S. Supreme Court in the next year or two.
By that time, there may be nine justices on the bench to break a tie vote.
The 2012 DACA program is still in effect. See this document from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to apply.
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