Undocumented immigrants spoke of their disappointment after today’s U.S. Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlock that froze President Barack Obama’s 2014 actions on immigration.
“Though we’re the ones who have lost the most, we don’t think Texas or any other states have won anything,” said Ela Tinoco through a translator. Tinoco originally is from Honduras and who would have qualified for deferred action.
Obama’s 2014 actions expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA and established Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, known as DAPA. DACA shields some immigrants who were brought by their families to the United States when they were children and DACA applies to some undocumented immigrants with minor children who are citizens or permanent residents.
The original Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was not affected by the Supreme Court’s announcement.
Tinoco, who is a student at Highline College and has lived in the United States half her life, said through a translator that many who take the risk of undocumented immigration feel that they have little choice — given the situations in their home countries.
“I’m conscious that I’ve committed a civic violation to enter this country without papers, but what else are we expected to do when our permits are vetoed, when people like me are fleeing violence, internal conflicts, poverty, corruption, inequality and lack of opportunities in our country?” Tinoco said.
Tinoco delivered her words at a Seattle press conference arranged by OneAmerica and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
She was joined by Daniela Murguia, 20, from Mexico, a student at Edmonds Community College applying to the University of Washington Bothell.
Murguia says the DACA expansion would help her continue her success.
“I have lacked the ability to work and to be able to have that progress,” she said. “I live in constant worry that any of my family members or myself may be separated any day or anywhere.”
Tinoco and Murguia were joined by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez, and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project Executive Director Jorge Baron.
Baron said that Thursday’s 4-4 deadlock was not necessarily the end, and that the case could continue under a full Supreme Court. The court has been split evenly since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, considered to be one of the high court’s conservative justices. Obama’s nomination Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat has been stalled in Congress.
“This is not the last word, today,” Baron said.
Murray also expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court’s announcement, and pledged that Seattle city officials would never ask residents about their immigration statuses.
“No one should be afraid to call 9-1-1. If you have a fire, call the fire department. No one will ask you what your immigration status is. If you are a victim of domestic violence, call the police department and the social service agencies. No one will ask you what your immigration status is. If you are a victim of a crime, call the police department. No one will ask you what your immigration status is,” he said.
Gonzalez, whose parents entered the country without documentation — though her mother eventually became a U.S. citizen — said the issue was deeply personal to her.
“Seattle stands with you. That we are a place that will continue to welcome immigrants and refugees and we will continue to make sure that this is a place that you can call home,” Gonzalez said.