The Supreme Court’s June 23, 2016, nine-word ruling in the case of US v. Texas is deeply disappointing. The 4-4 tied decision means that the Fifth Circuit’s preliminary injunction against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration will stand.
Those actions would have allowed eligible undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, or who were brought to the U.S. as children, to apply for a work permit and relief from deportation for three years, under two federal programs: the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and an expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Court’s decision puts on hold President Obama’s executive actions that could have helped millions of people work and live without fear of being torn from their families.
There is nothing, however, preventing the Obama administration from changing course on its deportation policies that continue to instill that fear in immigrant communities every day.
The same executive actions that announced the possibility of critical relief from deportation under these programs also left more than 6 million undocumented people who are not eligible – along with more than 13 million green card holders, and countless future immigrants – even more vulnerable to the brutalities of a detention and deportation system lacking in due process and basic human rights.
At the same time that communities were mobilizing and waiting for the outcome of this case, the Administration increased its use of home raids and courthouse arrests; attempted to strong-arm local governments into abandoning immigrant-protective policies; deported thousands of immigrants who received clemency or sentence reductions for a drug offense; increased militarization of the border; detained tens of thousands of immigrants a day; and continued to employ policies that criminalize immigrants and rhetoric that brands immigrants with criminal records as forever undeserving of fundamental rights.
For the past several years, the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) has been monitoring trends and tracking tactics that the Obama administration has been using in its mass deportation efforts, particularly around home raids. As part of this work, IDP and CCR filed a Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit to obtain Department of Homeland Security internal policies and trainings around tactics related to home raids. Last night IDP and CCR led a discussion at CCR's First Wednesday to provide a preview of the stories, analysis, and recommendations for federal, state, and local actions that will be highlighted in our forthcoming joint report on ICE home raids.
These recommendations include a call on President Obama to respond to this significant setback in the Supreme Court by abandoning divisive rhetoric and policies that undermine the values of fairness, redemption, and family unity that he espouses. He can put the brakes on a deportation machine and tactics that have cruelly torn apart so many families. He can make connections between the targeting and criminalization of communities of color and the mass deportation of immigrants that has relied on it.
IDP stands with our allies across the country in calling upon President Obama to declare a moratorium on deportations, and upon Congress and the presidential candidates to put forward a platform for just immigration reforms. This must include the repeal of problematic provisions of immigration laws passed in 1996 that helped create the architecture for much of the shameful and inhumane system of mass detention and deportation that we have today.
Alisa Wellek is executive director of the Immigrant Defense Project and Genia Blaser and an IDP staff attorney.