The United States Supreme Court recently tied 4-4 on a long-awaited decision to allow undocumented parents of U.S. citizens a pathway to citizenship. Due to the tie vote an injunction on Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) will remain in place, continuing to leave tens of thousands of parents in limbo. It is estimated that the DAPA program would have kept 43,000 children with their parents.
This would have been an important step forward because immigrant children live in fear of deportation of family members and friends. Under the Obama administration more immigrants have been deported than under any other president, making this fear imminent. Recent declines in deportation are attributed to fewer people illegally migrating. While the administration has stated that the focus of these policies is not intended to affect law-abiding residents, many such families have been separated in the process.
It is possible for another case to be brought next year ruling on the legality of the DAPA program once the vacant Supreme Court seat is filled. Some advocates are calling on the president to use executive pardons to prevent further punishment and deportation of undocumented immigrants. This avenue would still leave people without an opportunity to gain work permits or citizenship.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) filled a loophole for longtime childhood residents to have a path to citizenship and has given hope to many youth around the country. Undocumented students attend schools and are part of our communities. Once many youth graduate, however, job opportunities are currently closed to them.
DAPA and DACA make economic sense and make our communities safer, and give these youth an opportunity to contribute taxes and support families.
But there are more than just economic concerns as these reforms await action. Too often overlooked is the basic importance of keeping children with their parents and creating a family-friendly state where children can live free from fear. Michigan is a diverse state with a long history of immigration. As we continue to welcome new residents, we must put sensible policies into place so that all of our communities are better off.
— Seema Singh