The End Nears for this Politically Charged Game of Chess

4/14/16 DACA

shutterstock_375052336On Monday, April 18, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the controversial case, United States v. Texas, to determine the fate of more than 3 million undocumented individuals. The lawsuit, filed by Texas and 25 other states shortly after the administration announced the expansion of DACA (DACA+) and DAPA in November 2014, blocked implementation of the programs which have been held hostage ever since.

The lawsuit alleges that DACA+ and DAPA violate the “Take Care Clause” of the Constitution which requires that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” In addition, the states argue that DAPA and DACA+ violate the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) as arbitrary and capricious initiatives that are contrary to our immigration laws, and that the government did not comply with the procedural requirements of the APA before announcing these initiatives.

The so-called “standing” upon which Texas and the 25 other states brought the lawsuit was that these federal initiatives would unduly burden the states by requiring them to issue and subsidize driver’s licenses – $130 per license for Texas.

The case has arrived at our nation’s highest court after a carefully charted course that began in the very conservative U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. There, Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who presided over the matter, issued a preliminary injunction against the Obama Administration, halting the implementation of these programs. The case then went to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit where the preliminary injunction was upheld. Following the Fifth Circuit’s decision, the administration filed a formal request to the Supreme Court on November 20, 2015 – a full year to the date since the president announced the initiatives.

Though a year may not seem a long time to some, to the individuals waiting for the relief promised by these initiatives, a year is an eternity. Affected families are living in fear, suffering sleepless nights  waiting for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to come knocking on their door and wondering, every time they drive to work or school whether they will be picked up by ICE or make it home for another day. For those families, a year has been far too long.

During those 365 days, while Texas and the joining states played chess with the lives of millions of undocumented immigrants, advocates continued to carry the momentum for the administration’s vision of lifting the threat of deportation off the shoulders of thousands of fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. The community kept the hope alive.

But the wait came at a cost that goes far beyond the fear weighing down individuals and families. The delay blocked economic growth. The government spent resources deporting and separating families unnecessarily. Communities now lack integral members, and the resulting void is felt every day. For so many, the impact the Supreme Court decision will have is unmeasurable. While we do not know for sure what the justices will decide, at least a decision will come.

There are a lot of questions about what would happen if the Court hands down a 4-4 decision. Well, it’s pretty simple – should the justices fall short of a majority decision and deadlock at 4-4, the ruling of Judge Hanen will stand and implementation will fall into another extended coma while we await the results of the presidential election.  Should the justices, however, rule in favor of the administration, we will witness an explosion of joy in so many communities, and benefits to our economy and our future. We will profit from a tangible increase in economic participation, and we will relish in watching thousands of individuals who have been removed from society take a step forward. We’ll also experience a renewed sense of urgency and energy for the reform of our archaic immigration laws, to build a system that offers shared prosperity and a brighter future for us all.

As an immigrant myself I have witnessed first-hand the contributions and community participation of immigrants.  A favorable decision from the Supreme Court will enable many who have lived on the margins of our society to fully integrate and increase their participation.  In addition to economic benefits, our businesses will have access to a pool of additional talent that will increase competition and benefit us all. The countdown is nearing its end and we hope our enlightened justices can see beyond the politics of this game of chess.

by Annaluisa Padilla