The recent 4-4 Supreme Court ruling on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) put a brake on the expansion of DACA/DAPA.
DACA refers to unauthorized immigrants born after 1981 that were brought to the United States before their 16th birthday and have been in the country since June 15, 2007. An expansion to this benefit is for unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children before January 2010.
While estimates claim there are as many as 12 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, DACA/DAPA would help less than half of these immigrants. The way in which DACA helps approximately 1.5 million unauthorized immigrants is by allowing eligible young people to obtain work permits and defer deportation if they meet certain guidelines, such as not having a criminal record. DAPA gives approximately 3.5 million unauthorized immigrants the opportunity to obtain three-year work permits.
The majority of unauthorized immigrants live in three states. Two of those states, California and New York, did not sue; however, Texas led the lawsuit of 26 states brought against the expansion of DACA/DAPA to the Supreme Court.
The Texas-led lawsuit claims that Obama is ignoring federal immigration guidelines and seeks to block DAPA and the expansion of DACA, while not affecting recipients of the already established DACA program.
As the ruling has been making waves through the immigrant and immigrant advocacy communities, the more than 16.2 million individuals living in mixed-status families are feeling the repercussions of the recent ruling; many fear their status in the United States.
Higher education is also proving to be an issue, as the blocking of DACA's expansion is canceling out higher education as an option for most unauthorized immigrants who now do not have access to this program for the foreseeable future.
Most mixed-status families live in poverty. DACA recipients are commonly the first in their family to graduate high school and even more so to enroll in higher education. The blocking of DACA/DAPA has made reaching for higher education significantly more difficult and lessened the hope of unauthorized immigrants who dreamed of being the first in their family to graduate.
The health care industry nationwide is continuing to see uninsured and or underinsured unauthorized immigrants who now feel as if there is no hope for them to finally access the high quality health care the United States offers. Living in poverty as an unauthorized immigrant has offered them little to no healthcare in the United States and now will continue to do so.
The latest ruling is not stopping immigrant advocacy groups from moving forward. Democratic organizations are attempting to mobilize voters for the upcoming election, uniting both immigrant advocates and Latino voters.
Meanwhile, in an effort to expand benefits to the 4 million unauthorized immigrants that have just been blocked by the 4-4 Supreme Court ruling, advocacy groups such as Reform Immigration FOR America are pushing for the case to be brought back in front of the Supreme Court when a ninth judge is approved by Congress.
Frontera NorteSur Editor's Note: Today's analysis on the U.S. Supreme Court's recent immigration vote is by Kyle Fields, a 2015 graduate of New Mexico State University's online master's program in sociology.
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Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico