The Supreme Court has failed us, but our fight continues

Photo: NYIC

The Supreme Court has failed us, but our fight continues

June 24, 2016

On Thursday morning, in a sad and disappointing decision, the Supreme Court announced a 4-4 ruling in United States v. Texas, the case determining whether President Obama’s 2014 immigration relief programs can go into effect. This deadlock from the Supreme Court means that they could not reach a decision on the case and, as a result, set no national precedent about the legality of the executive action programs at this time. This also means that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision on the programs is upheld, and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+) programs cannot be implemented.

In November 2014, President Obama announced that he would use his executive authority to expand the existing program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and announce a new Deferred Action for Parents of U.S Citizens and Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. These programs would have provided important administrative relief, including protection from deportation and the ability to work legally, to nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants across the United States, including a quarter of a million New Yorkers.

In early 2015, opponents did their best to block it, resulting in the case being heard by the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled late last year to keep the injunction in place. Upon appeal, the Supreme Court heard the case, and in a decision that disappointed millions, they came to a deadlock, preventing the programs from taking effect ­ and leaving hardworking immigrants and their families without protection from deportation.

The Supreme Court’s 4-4 tie on this landmark case has failed our communities. The justices are in essence abdicating their responsibilities to a gridlocked and paralyzed political system that continues to come up short in providing real solutions. We are deeply disappointed that this ruling will continue the unproductive and unfair cycle of leaving millions at risk of deportation and being torn apart from their families. This is not justice, and our communities are tired of having their lives tied up with the lack of political will of our nation's leaders.

But the fight is not over. In this contentious election year where we have seen politicians use immigrants as scapegoats, our united front is more important than ever. We will continue to fight for the 11 million undocumented immigrants and their families who are a critical part of America’s workforce and communities. It is also important for our communities to know that the President’s 2012 executive action on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is still in place and is not affected by the Supreme Court decision. Together, we will fight against deportations and for keeping families together. And in the weeks and months ahead, we will mobilize our communities who are able to vote to do so in November – and send a clear message to all of our elected officials that America stands behind its immigrants.

We will also call on our next president and Congress to stop using immigration as a wedge issue, and finally pass the just and fair comprehensive immigration reform we deserve. In the meantime, we will do what we do best: support our immigrant communities across New York state through tangible policy changes­ from adult literacy to health care, immigration legal services to language access ­ that will bring real, tangible improvements in the daily lives of the 4 million immigrants that call New York state home.


Steven Choi is the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. Follow him on twitter at @SteveChoiNYIC and NYIC at @thenyic.

Steven Choi