Supreme Court deadlock endangers unity of thousands of Nebraska families

Families and advocates vow to keep fighting in face of continued limbo for DAPA program

NE_Appleseed_Icons_SupremeCourt-128Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a 4-4 ruling in United States v. Texas, a case regarding President Obama’s temporary administrative relief programs to keep immigrant families together. The ruling affirms the Fifth Circuit Court’s decision to uphold the preliminary injunction against the two programs at issue in this case – called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (expanded DACA or DACA+) – so that for now, they cannot be implemented while the case continues to make its way through the lower courts.

It is important to note today’s ruling does not directly impact the President’s 2012 administrative relief program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which already has secured the unity of thousands of American families by allowing many young Nebraskans to work during and after finishing college and to contribute to their communities without fear of deportation. However, the Court’s deadlock Thursday threatens to break apart thousands of Nebraska families at risk for deportation. These families would have been able to remain united under the two programs at issue.

Darcy Tromanhauser, director of Nebraska Appleseed’s Immigrants & Communities Program, said the decision a big step backward for the safety and unity of thousands of Nebraska families, as well as Nebraska’s economy.

“While today’s split decision sets no Supreme Court precedent, these important policies will unfortunately remain in limbo nationwide,” Tromanhauser said. “This delay in the 2014 programs keeps thousands of Nebraska families in danger of separation and threatens communities across the state that have been enriched by the contributions of immigrant Nebraskans.

“The fact remains, DAPA and DACA+ are common-sense temporary programs that have a strong legal foundation and are consistent with decades of actions taken by presidents of both parties.”

While original DACA already is working well in Nebraska, the U.S. v. Texas ruling is a temporary setback for many more immigrant families who have long-standing ties to our state and country. People who would have been eligible for expanded DACA and DAPA are members of American families who may have children or spouses who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. To be eligible, they must not have a criminal record and have been living in the U.S. continuously since before 2010. Under the current U.S. immigration system there is no process for these individuals to become citizens and there is no other way to fix their situation.

“This is a very sad day for my family and thousands of other Nebraska families like us,” said Alondra, a DAPA-eligible Nebraskan in Omaha. “Because of this, Nebraska children will go to school not knowing if their parents will be there when they get home. When families are broken apart, the entire community loses. This state is our home, and we will continue to do everything we can to be a valuable part of it.”

The decision also prevents immigrant Nebraskans from increasing their economic contributions that already total in millions of dollars each year. The Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy reports undocumented immigrants contribute $44 million in Nebraska state and local taxes each year. That number would grow by more than $3 million if DACA+ and DAPA were implemented, and would increase by another $8 million with updated, common-sense immigration laws that include a roadmap to citizenship.

“As we continue to wait for a full ruling on this temporary solution, it is more important than ever for Congress to update our immigration laws to include a clear, inclusive roadmap to citizenship so Nebraska families can take further steps to remain together and keep being a vital part of our communities,” Tromanhauser said.

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