The U.S. Supreme Court should uphold President Obama’s 2013 decision to delay deportations for millions of immigrants already living and contributing to American society. Then Congress needs to do its job.
ALMOST three years ago, the U.S. Senate passed a set of meaningful comprehensive immigration reforms. That hard-fought effort stalled in the U.S. House. Meanwhile, millions of people remain needlessly gripped by fear and uncertainty.
Last week, their fate became the subject of heated oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Led by Texas, a coalition of states argue President Obama abused his executive authority in late 2014 when he expanded an existing immigration program that defers deportations for people brought to the United States as children. He also extended the same temporary work and residency rights to parents of children who are here legally. Two lower courts intervened and stopped the president’s actions from taking effect.
The Supreme Court should uphold Obama’s order, and Congress should finally overhaul the immigration system. Common-sense reforms should include an avenue to citizenship for some of the estimated 11 million individuals who have resided and worked in the U.S. for years. That includes 230,000 in this state.
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Ilse Montes De Oca was brought to the U.S. when she was just 6 months old. She learned about the challenges of living in Washington illegally when she was diagnosed with cancer at age 9.
After spending her teen years picking pears and baking Mexican pastries in Yakima, she became the first member of her family to graduate from college, earning a degree from the University of Washington.
Granted legal status under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, De Oca was able to work as a nanny and researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital. This year, she earned a certified nursing assistant license and joined the same oncology unit that treated her as a child. Now 24, she has been accepted into Seattle University’s nursing program.
But like the other nearly 16,000 people in Washington with DACA status, De Oca does not qualify for federal financial aid. Nor can she defer admission.
Jorge Baron, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, says De Oca’s situation is frustrating and far from rare. “These are people who are already contributing to our community,” he said. “They just want to contribute fully.”
People like De Oca have earned the opportunity to prove their hearts and talent belong in America.