Families in Legal Limbo Awaiting Decision on Immigration Reform

Last November, President Obama spoke to the nation when he announced his plans for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). This program, as he explained would benefit millions of individuals present in the United States without authorization, but who have children who are either United States citizens or lawful permanent residents. The benefits included relief from deportation or removal in addition to work authorization. Once work authorization is obtained, a state driver’s license would also be available to those who wished to apply for one.

Most Americans take for granted the ability to work and travel freely in the country. Millions of people, without lawful work authorization are severely limited in their employment opportunities, and are often forced to perform jobs that may be dangerous and difficult. These individuals are often at the mercy of employers who force these workers to work in inhumane conditions, laboring more than 10-12 hours a day, and paying them below the minimum wage. They are also limited to their geographical area of employment, due to lack of transportation, in areas that do not have adequate mass transportation. Even when trains and busses are available, these undocumented individuals run the risk of being detected by immigration officials, performing random checks. Without a driver’s license, families are limited to where they can shop buy their groceries, often paying far more than the average price, based on their location and inability to travel safely to supermarkets or discount centers. Even worse, parents are often not able to take their children to the doctor or hospital when medical attention is required.

President Obama sought to put an end to the suffering of millions with his DAPA plan, however, early this year, in February 2015 a federal judge in Texas filed an injunction, blocking that initiative. The injunction was filed strategically and cruelly two days before the program would have taken effect and people could have begun applying for the benefit. The injunction was the result of a lawsuit filed by a group of legislators from 26 states. Anti-immigration activists, including the Attorney General from the states of Nevada, have accused President Obama of going beyond his executive powers when he announced the DAPA program. Currently, the White House has appealed the injunction and it now stands at a deadlock.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, In Clark County, alone there are approximately 99,000 undocumented individuals living there. It has been further estimated that at least 41,500 of those people are eligible for relief pursuant to President Obama’s DAPA plan.

Millions of children, born in the United States are awaiting a resolution to their parent’s dilemma. Families are in a state of uncertainty, as they continue to hope that DAPA will eventually prevail and enable members to legalize their status, allowing them to come out of the shadows and join their children, enjoying the benefits of living in the country, without the threat of deportation.

Pro-immigration activists are still hopeful that the lawsuit will be dismissed. In an effort to gain support from the general public pro-immigration rallies have been organized, where people in the community have had the opportunity to tell their story and the plight of their family. The hope of these organizers is when people understand the issue from the point of view of the immigrant families, they might become inspired to speak out for the rights of this immigration population. Often American citizens are unaware of the history of immigration in the United States, and forget that the country’s population is comprised of immigrants, with the exception of the Native American Indians.

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