Hours after today’s disastrous Supreme Court immigration decision, a website called The Excluded popped up in my Facebook feed. The Excluded faces and stories of longtime U.S. residents who live every day at risk of deportation.
“Noemi Romero, 24, has lived in Arizona practically her whole life. At the age of 21 while she was raided by Sheriff Arpaio’s deputies while working to save money to pay for her DACA application. She can no longer able to apply due to her felony for working.”
“Melvin, 41, worked on over 200 houses, spanning every neighborhood in New Orleans as well as Baton Rouge, in the recovery after Hurricane Katrina. Although Melvin’s children have lived in the United States since 2007, Melvin does not qualify for DAPA because they are not citizens or residents.”
“Sofia Estevez, 56, has lived and worked in the US for 23 years, volunteering in her community for the last decade. She is not eligible for DAPA because her children are not US citizens.”
“Gerardo Torres, 44, has been in the United States for 23 years. He is a leader working for justice for undocumented and LGBTQ people. He also runs a community garden that supports health and nutrition for his community. Yet, Gerardo does not qualify for DAPA.”
Maria, Melvin, Sofia, and Gerardo are among the millions of people would not even have been eligible for President Obama’s deferred action (DAPA) plan. After today’s 4-4 Supreme Court division on President Obama’s plan, millions of other immigrants lost this flickering hope.
Last year, Pew Research asked Americans what they want to do about 11.3 undocumented immigrants now living in the United States. Their answer:
“[A] solid majority (72%) of Americans – including 80% of Democrats, 76% of independents and 56% of Republicans – say undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.should be allowed to stay in this country legally if they meet certain requirements.”
Only comprehensive immigration reform can end this travesty that is our current immigration policy and welcome immigrants who have lived here for decades, have raised families, have built homes, have worked and paid taxes. Only comprehensive immigration reform can end the inequities and abuses of a system that separates married couples and wrenches parents from children. Only comprehensive immigration reform can fix this broken system.
Comprehensive immigration reform has been promised for decades. We need a new Congress, a Congress that will work for all the people, a Congress that will listen to the clear voice of the people.
Immigration should be a key issue in November: framed not as the politics of prejudice, but as the politics of inclusion and hope. As Emilia Avalos, executive director of NAVIGATE MN said in a press release today:
“We all have a reason to move forward and keep fighting. Our families walked miles, our families have worked tirelessly, our families had a dream that got all of us here right now. It is not the time to give up but it is time to keep looking forward, to keep looking up.”