ICIRR Cheers Supreme Court Ruling Upholding DACA; Calls for Permanent Solutions for Immigrants
This morning, by a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration acted improperly when it attempted to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September 2017. This ruling means that the more than 650,000 immigrants who have DACA will continue to be shielded from deportation and eligible to work for the foreseeable future.
“This is a great day for immigrants and for our entire nation,” said Lawrence Benito, chief executive officer of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). “Hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including 42,000 in Illinois, will not need to fear arrest, deportation, and separation from their families. They can remain in their communities and continue with the lives they have built in this country.”
“The wait is over for now. I am ecstatic to hear about this ruling and there are no words to describe the relief,” said Elizabeth Cervantes, DACA recipient and ICIRR board member with South Suburban Immigrant Project. “DACA has enabled me to provide for my family and move forward with my life. The past few years have left me and many thousands of others anxious about our future, and as we expected the worst outcome, we never stopped working. The court has ruled in our favor and justice has prevailed.”
“As we celebrate today we do so knowing that DACA is not the end result we are seeking,” Cervantes continued. “We will continue to fight until everyone is able to live their lives with dignity and respect. That means providing access to full citizenship for all. That means ensuring that all our Black siblings, some of whom are also immigrants, live free from fear of being killed by police. That means defunding police and ICE, and instead funding our communities to ensure we can all thrive. Our work is not done. We have much to do to fight in our communities, in Springfield and in D.C. for our demands to make Illinois the most welcoming state in the country, and to get the immigrant vote out in huge numbers this November. But today, we celebrate our movement’s success in coming to DACA’s defense, because we did this.”
The Obama administration created DACA in 2012 for immigrants who arrived in the US as children and who met certain additional requirements. DACA provides a two-year shield from deportation as well as authorization to work, but does not by itself offer a way to gain lawful permanent status. The Trump administration’s attempt to rescind the program met several legal challenges, all of which the administration lost in the lower courts, leaving DACA in place for those immigrants who already had it.
Even with this victory, the Supreme Court ruling leaves open the possibility that the administration will again attempt to rescind DACA, this time following legal administrative procedures that it failed to follow previously. This possibility calls for a more permanent solution for immigrants who had or who are otherwise eligible for DACA, as well as the millions of other immigrants who remain vulnerable to ICE enforcement and deportation.
ICIRR is calling for Congress and the White House to pass a clean version of the DREAM Act that does not also incorporate punitive measures such as funding for the border wall, ramped-up enforcement powers, or restrictions on asylum or visas. Any version of DREAM should remove restrictions based on criminal history, in recognition of how communities of color are overpoliced and over-punished in our criminal justice system. ICIRR also calls for restrictions on how ICE can use information provided by DACA applicants on their applications, an issue that ProPublica reported in April 2020, and is calling on members of the Illinois delegation to defund the deportation pipeline by defunding ICE and CBP when a budget vote comes up in the fall.
Finally, ICIRR calls on all immigrants and communities of color to make our voices heard by responding to the 2020 Census and by registering and voting in the November 2020 elections. “Our work is far from done,” said Benito. “We need to continue to build the power of our communities not only to stop the attacks on DACA and other programs but to move toward a more inclusive and compassionate vision of society. The fact that 2020 is an election year is not lost on us. We will be getting the immigrant vote out this November in support of advancing a racial equity agenda.”
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a statewide coalition of more than 100 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society. For more information, visit www.icirr.org.