This could have been one of the biggest weeks for immigrant rights in modern history, opening up sweeping deportation relief and extending a temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants nationwide.
Instead, they will have to continue waiting – but it won’t be quietly.
Rallies are scheduled across the country on Tuesday as advocacy groups protest what would have marked the unofficial kick-off date to President Obama’s second – and most sweeping – executive action program on immigration. Known as DAPA, the executive measure would have benefited as many as 3.7 million undocumented immigrant adults who have children born in the U.S. or are legal permanent residents.
Implementation plans, however, hit a snag after a federal judge in Texas placed a preliminary injunction on the executive measures, temporarily freezing the application process while a lawsuit brought by Texas and 25 other states plays out through the courts. The judge’s order came just days before the so-called DACA expansion program benefiting young undocumented immigrants was supposed to launch. Now, exactly three months later, the fate of the programs are still unknown, leaving several more months to a year before the matter will be solved through the courts.
Immigrant youth and family affected by the court delays are expected to demonstrate on the steps of state capitals Tuesday where leaders have signed onto the lawsuit. “If our state leaders are going to take actions that affect real people in Ohio, they need to hear about the consequences for families, children, and taxpayers,” said Lynn Tramonte, the organizer of Ohio’s Voice.
In Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott is leading the charge against the measures, DREAMers brought to the U.S. as children, along with their parents and others who would have qualified for the executive actions, plan to storm the governor’s mansion to share their stories.
“My undocumented status affects my life every day, in small and big ways,” Margarita Rivera, a Texas Organizing Project member who would have applied for DAPA on Tuesday, said in a statement. “My husband and I own a business and are faithful taxpayers, but if we had DAPA, we would be able to do even more, like buy a house or hire more people. And most importantly to us, we wouldn’t live in constant fear of being separated from our three daughters who were born here.”
Tuesday’s actions are not just about the legal quarrels and political pressure. Advocacy groups are concerned that the legal drama playing out in the courts will stir up confusion from within immigrant communities, suppressing the number of people who would likely apply if the program is back up and running. Groups will be holding informational sessions and workshops all through this week to educate families on how to gather their documents and be ready to apply.
Tuesday’s events are a testament to the growing influence of Latino and immigration advocacy groups, which have grown both political power and grassroots support in a few short years.The executive actions have gained strong support from many of the country’s leading trade workers and labor unions, creating a program that would lift millions of undocumented immigrants to work above-board and earn legal wages.
“Far from paralyzing us, the current legal injunction of the deferred action programs further highlight something that we in the labor movement know very well: that organizing is the only real force that moves our country forward,” AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre said in a statement.