The fate of President Barack Obama’s immigration actions is now in the hands of the Supreme Court. The announcement was made Tuesday.
The president’s actions would make it easier for millions of undocumented immigrants to be able to work legally in the United States and get benefits.One program is the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) which is aimed at the nearly 4.3 million undocumented immigrants who have children who are legal permanent residents or U.S. citizens. The other is an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which focuses on teenagers and young adults who were born outside of the U.S. but raised in the country.
Some Upstate undocumented immigrants saw the actions as an opportunity in a life that has a continual threat looming over it.
“The fear of what would happen if a police officer picked us up, and we would be separated from our family, and it even happened to me,” immigrant Gabriel Santamaria said. “I was arrested for a few hours because they thought I was somebody else.”
Santamaria moved to Greenville more than 20 years ago from Mexico. He met his wife who migrated to the Upstate from Colombia. Santamaria has worked different jobs in sales, landscaping, and handy work. The couple has a nine-year-old daughter.
For them, the possibility of deportation is even worse because if anything happened, the two would be sent to two different countries. They said if they tried applying legally it could mean they’d be away from each other and their daughter for what could be 20 to 30 years while on the wait list.
However, Tuesday’s announcement by the Supreme Court gave them and around 20,000 other similar families in the Upstate hope. The families have been in a limbo state ever since the president made his immigration reforms a year ago before federal courts blocked implementation.
“[Tuesday’s] decision by the Supreme Court is exciting news for us because it means we should actually hear something this year,” said Frankie Rodriguez, the senior pastor at El Camino and an accredited immigration representative at Immigration Connection.
Immigrants said they hope the Supreme Court upholds the president’s actions because they enjoy living in the country.
“This is where I’ve made my home and my life, and if DOPA was allowed, approved, as a family we’d be happy, and many thousands of families like us would be benefited and helped, and then, we can be a part of helping and giving back to this country,” Santamaria said.
It’s likely the Supreme Court could rule on the case by summer.