By Miguel Garcia
Image courtesy of Pixaby
Editor’s Note: On Thursday, June 23rd, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced its ruling regarding President Obama’s 2014 Executive Action on immigration. The action extended DACA and instituted a new program, DAPA, giving relief to undocumented parents of U.S. Citizens. Five million undocumented immigrants would have qualified for temporary relief and deferment from deportation through the obtainment of work permits. The 4-4 SCOTUS deadlock upheld a challenge by a Texas Circuit Court of Appeals to block President Obama’s plan. While Obama’s original 2012 DACA program currently remains in place, his legacy on immigration has been severely diminished. The future of millions of undocumented Americans remains uncertain.
MERCED, Calif. — When I heard the Supreme Court’s ruling about DACA and DAPA, I felt oddly empty. I was eating breakfast when my mother relayed the news.
I had been pretty pessimistic about the court upholding President Obama’s executive order due to the stagnant nomination process for the vacant Justice position. I thought I had mentally prepared myself for an unfavorable announcement, but I was wrong.
Unresponsive at first, the full impact of the decision settled in and I was devastated. I sat down and watched Univision — they were interviewing all of the disappointed parents and Dreamers. Seeing their heartbroken faces and frustrations hit me hard. It was another blow for immigration activists. One of many received over the years.
I personally would have benefited from the extension of DACA, but my concern grew over the people who were left empty handed. Those people are my family members. Those people are my friends. They are young people like myself, who have been in the U.S. all their lives and just want to be able to follow their dreams.
I wrote an article in January of 2015, and looking back, I can’t help but laugh. Obama had made his big immigration announcement two months prior. It had been applauded by immigration activists, but I felt there was no reason to celebrate. Some undocumented folks had been left behind once again. I wanted to remind activists that the fight was not over.
Now, there is a definite atmosphere of defeat that has permeated the air. I had hoped that by 2016, we would have progressed when it came to immigration reform, but on the contrary, we have taken countless steps back. And despite this setback, here I am — this erratic cynic — offering my vision of hope.
I want to insist that my fellow immigrants and allies not give up. Hold your heads up high and continue the good fight. The SCOTUS decision is definitely a hurdle, but change is afoot. I truly believe that from all of the chaos that has engulfed this election year, the potential for progress hides beneath it.
Immigration is once again a hot topic of debate, as is the idea of mass deportations. Republicans have used fear mongering to scapegoat immigrants. Donald Trump’s rallies have become ground zero for hate against this population. He connivingly invites families of those killed by undocumented immigrants to speak at his events in order to push his racist agenda. While I don’t condone any murders, statistics prove immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native population. In spite of this, crowds go wild when Trump mentions building his famous wall or refers to Mexicans as “rapists” and “drug dealers.”
Despite Trump’s growing influence, I remain optimistic. I am certain Trump will lose the presidential race to Hillary Clinton by a significant margin. I believe this for many reasons, but perhaps the biggest reason being the unfavorable ratings Trump has collected thus far. The autopsy report released after Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign in 2012, highlighted the need for the Republican party to change its views on immigration. Trump has gone in the opposite direction. While I hesitate to ask people to vote based on single issues, I’d like to ask our allies, who have the ability to vote, for one favor: keep us in mind when you are making your decision.
If Trump loses, Clinton will be able to nominate her choice for Supreme Court justice. And if the Democrats recapture the senate, Merrick Garland is likely to be the replacement. Last Thursday’s SCOTUS deadlock does not establish any sort of precedent, almost as if the court had not reviewed the case at all. This means that if the court were to decide to revisit the case, the odds may be in our favor.
More importantly, there is a possibility the Republican party may restructure itself. Their ideas on mass deportations are inhumane and are likely to result in unintended economic consequences. There would be a massive decrease in both the labor force and the consumer base. Trump’s promises on the economic benefits of deporting immigrants are empty. Political parties fight hard for survival and perhaps in the face of increasingly unfavorable voter demographics, party members will finally sit down at the table and take immigration reform seriously. We — dreamers, immigrant parents, and our allies — must take advantage of this and hold our representatives, democrat and republican, to high standards.
During the Bush era, I remember how hopeful my family had been about immigration reform. My parents would say, “No te preocupes, pronto nos darán papeles (Don’t worry, soon we’ll have documents).” Then Obama took office and he promised immigration reform. Again, they said, “Have hope, we will get papers.” I don’t think I ever believed them.
But, I truly believe it now.
It’s almost embarrassing to admit it, but I am actually hopeful about what lies ahead. I went to a Bernie Sanders rally a month ago and the most exciting moment was when Sanders spoke about immigration and people chanted “¡Sí, se puede!”
People around me gave me the confidence I needed and I, in turn, hope to do the same to others. So for those of you who have doubts about the future of undocumented Americans, my message is simple: No te rindas, pronto triunfaremos.
Don’t give up, soon we will be triumphant.
Miguel Garcia is a 21-year-old college student and proud Dreamer. A regular contributor of We’Ced, he loves to write about issues affecting the undocumented immigrant community.