Children At Core Of Immigration Case Says Coalition

Video by Bill Sorem; Text by Michael McIntee and Bill Sorem

A coalition of Minnesota groups opposed to ending a program to shield undocumented workers from deportation says you should consider the children.

“Every day I leave my house with a bit of fear that I might not come back to my house to see my kids,” Maria Ambriz said through an interpreter.

“I’m here to ask those that have the power, those that are making the decisions that they understand that they understand that my children here as citizens and they deserve to live as other citizens.”

About 700,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 30 are protected from being deported even though their parents are undocumented immigrants. Texas and 25 other states want to stop the Obama administration from giving parents the same protection as it does the children.

Their argument asks the U.S. Supreme court to uphold a lower court ruling that says the President Obama overstepped his authority when he instituted the “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents,” or DAPA program, in November 2014. Obama issued the DAPA order after congress failed to act on immigration reform even though about 70% of the Senate favored action.

“Deportation, when it does occur, has serious adverse effects on families including a permanent change in family structure and in extreme cases family dissolution,” said Jason Adkins of the Minnesota Catholic Conference. In 2011 before DAPA was in place, more than 5,100 US citizen children were living in foster care after a parent’s deportation or detention.

Who sets priorities at issue

According to John Keller of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, the case is about whether the president of the United States has the authority to decide who is a deportation priority.

The government only has enough funds to deport about 400,000 people a year. The Obama administration says it has the right to prioritize who to deport.

“We have basically 10 million, nine hundred thousand people that cannot be deported because there’s not enough resources,” Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said during Monday’s hearing. “So they are here whether we want them or not.”

Lawyers for the Obama administration are challenging Texas’ right to sue in the case. Texas says it has standing to do so because it would need to spend money issuing driver’s licenses to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who receive the three-year reprieve from possible deportation.

If the Supreme court splits 4-4 on the case, a injunction against the DAPA program would remain in place but would not set a national precedent.

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