President Obama’s plan to protect millions from deportation through executive action continues to be blocked in the courts one year after he first announced it, but immigration advocates aren’t letting that get in their way.
They’re holding rallies, marches, vigils and direct actions this weekend to mark the one-year anniversary as well as to urge the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Obama’s stalled deportation-relief plan, after the Justice Department filed an appeal Friday.
“There are folks who are watching very keenly what’s going on because they understand that the light at the end of the tunnel is there and that we’re not done yet,” said Polo Morales, political director at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHILR).
Morales’ group is one of hundreds who participated in a day of action Friday. They held a press conference outside the Los Angles City Hall, along with other local groups, to highlight testimonies of undocumented immigrants who would benefit from the deportation relief programs that Obama announced as part of his executive actions on immigration last year.
More than 35 cities across the country planed to hold similar events this weekend.
In Washington, D.C., immigration advocates rallied outside the Supreme Court on Friday, while advocates in other states marched to the offices of the Republican governors involved in the lawsuit that led to a federal judge blocking Obama’s executive actions on immigration. And some groups, like Mi Familia Vota, were planning to hold events this weekend to mobilize Latinos to prepare for next year’s elections.
“We are reminding Latinos that our growing political power can force comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota.
Meanwhile, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Linda Sánchez said she and other Hispanic lawmakers will continue to “fight tooth and nail” to defend Obama’s executive actions but that ultimately “only Congress can provide real and lasting protections.”
“That is why we continue to work tirelessly toward comprehensive legislation that allows all 11 million immigrant families to come out of the shadows and at last, live with dignity and certainty,” she said.
Last Nov. 20, Obama took executive action after Congress failed to pass an immigration reform bill. He announced a program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, that would allow undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who qualify to apply for protection from deportation and work permits.
He also announced the expansion of a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, that would shield young immigrants from deportation who do not have legal status but were brought here as children.
Both the DAPA and expanded DACA programs were blocked after 26 states—led by Texas—filed a lawsuit. Last week, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a lower court and continued to block the programs. But on Friday, the Justice Department filed an appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the justices to allow Obama’s executive actions to be implemented.
Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said the “swift filing” by the Justice Department gives the Supreme Court “plenty of time to hear the case this term and provide stability to the millions of families stuck in legal limbo.”
Immigration advocates are hoping that the justices will take up the case and rule in favor of the president by June. That would give the Obama administration several months to implement the DAPA and expanded DACA programs before Obama leaves office.
For Maura Trejo, a favorable ruling would mean that she no longer faces the threat of deportation. The immigrant from Mexico, who’s been in the U.S. for more than a decade, would qualify for the DAPA program because one of her three children is a U.S. citizen.
On Friday, she participated in a march to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s mansion in Raleigh to highlight the stories of undocumented immigrants, like her, who would benefit from DAPA and are already contributing to the economy. Trejo and her family run a pizzeria, and her husband runs his own construction company.
“We want the governor—and others who think that we come here to take jobs—to know that we are hardworking people who want to get ahead,” Trejo said.