Commentary: Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court's ruling in a 4-4 vote on President Obama's 2014 executive actions on immigration, ensuring such programs will be continue to be on hold until case moves forward.
"Today's disappointing Supreme Court ruling only serves to further galvanize thousands of immigrant families and our supporters, said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director for Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "Nearly 30,000 immigrants across the state would have received relief from deportation and contributed even more to our economy, public safety and the wellbeing of all New Mexicans. Our families fought hard for these executive actions and we will continue fighting as we have done for years. And in light of congressional inaction, we will continue to work at the local, county and state level to push for policies that integrate our families."
In 2012, President Obama announced the first version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allowing certain undocumented youth to receive a temporary work permit and relief from deportation.
After announcing a second set of executive actions in 2014, Republican lawmakers decided to challenge the administration in court. The new set of executive actions consisted of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) which targets the undocumented parents of citizens and lawful residents, and the second rule expands Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
"We have learned to fight and not remain silent," said Veronica Velazquez, member of United Worker Center in Santa Fe and mother of two U.S. citizen children. "We will keep moving forward and will continue to defend our families from deportation and discrimination."
According to the Migration Policy Institute, approximately 26,000 immigrants in New Mexico would qualify for DAPA and an additional 2,000 would qualify for the expanded DACA program.
"We are extremely disappointed," said Leoncio Gonzalez, a dairy worker and resident of Portales for over 11 years. "These executive actions would have given us the opportunity to build a better life for our children, to improve our working conditions, to live our lives without the fear of deportation and to contribute even more to our community. We will continue fighting now more than ever."
The American Immigration Council estimates that should both programs go into affect, the state and local contributions of DAPA and extended DACA eligible immigrants in New Mexico would increase by over $3 million dollars from $34,971,000 to $38, 209,000.
"The struggle for immigration reform continues, " said Ruben Palomino, a dairy worker who would benefit from DAPA and resident of Roswell for over 20 years. "This disappointing decision will not deter our families from fighting for what is right and fighting for a better future for our children. In Roswell, we will continue helping eligible immigrants to become citizens and continue to knock on doors to get out the vote."
Along with Somos Un Pueblo Unido, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, U.S. Rep. Michelle Luján Grisham, and the mayors of Santa Fe and Alamogordo all previously signed on to amicus briefs supporting the executive actions.
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide immigrant-led civil and worker's rights organization with membership teams in ten counties and offices in Santa Fe and Roswell. Somos spearheaded a campaign in 2003 with law enforcement officials, victims rights agencies, and faith and civil rights groups to require qualified undocumented immigrants to apply for licenses, obtain insurance, and register their vehicles.