Immigration advocates find hope in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case that centers on President Barack Obama’s executive action to protect families that have lived in the shadows for years without legal status.
The justices will consider previous orders by lower courts that blocked the immigration plan.
1.46 million total unauthorized population in Texas, according to Migration Policy Institute
“The decision of the Supreme Court revitalizes the immigrant community’s confidence in the judiciary system,” said Douglas Interiano, executive director of Proyecto Inmigrante ICS, a counseling service with offices in Dallas, Fort Worth and Wichita Falls. “Although this is only the first step in the appeal process before the highest court in the country, the decision gives a sense of peace and hope to millions of undocumented immigrants who could benefit from the executive actions, particularly with the recent raids by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.”
The executive order would expand the pool of unauthorized immigrants who could seek deferrals allowing them to stay in the United States without immediate threat of deportation.
The order would expand DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, by removing the age limit, which is 30, and permitting applications from those who have lived in the United States since 2010. It also would make work permits expire in three years instead of two.
Also under the order, DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents,would protect about 4.1 million unauthorized immigrants nationwide. It would allow them to apply for work permits, provided they were parents of U.S.-born children or legal permanent residents, passed a background check and paid fees.
10.9 million illegal immigrants estimated to live in the United States
The Rev. Stephen Jasso, who leads a congregation of mostly immigrants at All Saints Catholic Church in north Fort Worth, said the lawsuit is dragging out a measure that was already a done deal by the president.
“These two issues should be resolved right away,” Jasso said, adding that the delays are making families suffer. He said immigrants in his congregation are hardworking families with children who have been raised American.
“These kids are going to be a blessing for this country,” he said, speaking of young people who have been living in this country without legal status.
559,000 estimated number of people in Texas eligible for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, according to the Migration Policy Institute
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was supposed to begin accepting requests for DACA in February 2015. But after an injunction was issued the department suspended plans to accept applications for both programs.
The case will be argued in April and decided by June.
This report includes material from The Associated Press and the Star-Telegram archives.