The Supreme Court deadlocked last Thursday on a challenge to President Obama’s programs to keep millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The 4-4 split on the court upholds a lower court ruling that halted Obama’s November 2014 effort to allow these immigrants to live and work in the United States legally. The Supreme Court’s tie effectively ended two immigration programs Obama created in November 2014 after Congress failed to pass an immigration bill. These programs, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), created hope for many immigrants. The decision of the Supreme Court will have a devastating impact on many, including survivors of domestic violence. Gladys Ortiz, an advocate with REACH, shares her thoughts.
“Last Thursday the undocumented immigrant community was delivered heartbreaking news that stripped them of President Obama’s 2014 Executive Order, an order that finally granted these immigrants the possibility of living a life without constant fear. When DAPA/DACA was issued, the immigrant community felt a huge sense of relief because it granted certain privileges to the parents of American citizens as well as those who were brought here as children. Under DAPA/DACA, folks that met this criteria were eligible for a work permit and a driver’s license and offered a sense of security that they will not be deported. Due to the inability of our legislators to arrive at some consensus on comprehensive immigration reform, President Obama used his Executive Power to finally address the needs of this marginalized community forced to live in the shadows. And now all sense of hope and relief is lost because of this Supreme Court decision.
Many of the survivors I work with have lived in the U.S. for decades as productive members of society. They have families here including children who are American citizens; some of their children are professionals, some are college students, and some of course are little ones. These children live in fear of having their parents deported and they will feel the consequences of this Supreme Court decision. On top of this, families dealing with domestic violence already face different types of abuse including physical, emotional and psychological abuse. My fear is that families will continue to face abuse in silence because their safety net has been destroyed. The trust between the undocumented community and local, state and federal authorities has been severely jeopardized. Survivors of domestic abuse have lost a method of escape. Many survivors who have had the courage to report abuse are threatened by their deported abusers who have violent and vengeful sentiments that they will act upon if the victims are also deported to their home country. This serious threat to their lives is just another reason why some victims will not report future abuse- the thought of deportation could be a death sentence. I felt a huge sense of relief for the survivors I work with when the Executive Order was issued in 2014 because they didn’t have to worry about these things. Now, this is no longer the case.
It breaks my heart because I know that as an immigrant myself, I am privileged that when I look at my kids I know that I will not be taken away from them. I can’t imagine living with that fear in my heart. The majority of undocumented individuals are tax paying members of society; they are business owners, friends, people who take care of our parents in nursing homes and also take care of our kids. Shouldn’t we allow these important members of society to have a basic sense of security like the rest of us? They live here and have families, why not give them a chance?”
REACH stands with all survivors. We work with folks regardless of their immigration status. To learn more about our work with immigrant survivors of domestic violence, check out our previous blog post. If you, or someone you know, is in need of support, please call our hotline: (800) 899-4000.