Protestors fight for delayed immigration reforms
Last Thursday, Silverthorne’s Celebration Around the World — an annual event recognizing the diverse cultures present in Summit County — became an occasion for peaceful protest against a recent federal court decision blocking executive actions on immigration signed last year by President Barack Obama.
More than a dozen people gathered at the roundabout to the Silverthorne Pavilion, chanting and holding up signs urging Obama to take the legal battle to U.S. Supreme Court, as light snow filled the night sky on Nov. 19. The events marked the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s attempted expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and was sponsored by two community organizations focused on immigrant issues: Unidos Por La Igualdad De Summit County (United For Equality) and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.
On Nov. 20, 2014, Obama unveiled the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents as a supplemental program to DACA. It was immediately challenged in Texas v. United States by a total of 26 states. On Nov. 9, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold a lower court’s preliminary injunction preventing DAPA’s implementation.
Started in 2012, DACA allows people who relocated to the United States during their youth and who meet qualifying guidelines to stay in the country for renewable two-year periods. Although the deferred-action status does not provide lawful status if does qualify individuals for work authorization in the U.S. Since the inception of DACA, nearly half of the 1.2 million undocumented immigrants who potentially qualify have applied to obtain deferred-action status.
The DAPA program would expand the option to parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and extend the length of deferment under DACA to three years. In its argument in the Texas case, the Obama administration said the proposed changes would qualify 4.3 million of approximately 11.3 undocumented immigrants to apply for relief from deportation.
Javier Dominguez, who has worked with the Unidos group for six years, and last year became a board member with CIRC, acknowledged the cultural event inside the pavilion before addressing the legal battle.
“We are here to celebrate the diversity that lives in this community, but we are also here to protest the delay in the DACA program,” he told the crowd. “We are here in the cold but with a lot of spirit to continue in our struggle.”
Texas has argued that the reforms would allow otherwise ineligible immigrants to qualify for state-subsidized drivers licenses and unemployment insurance. To this point, the courts have upheld a preliminary injunction, concluding that Texas has standing because is would be financially impacted. Dominguez said the goal of most immigrants is to add to society.
“We are fighting to keep out community safe and are working with the police, so we can contribute to this beautiful community,” he said. “We want to give back what we can to this great country.”
The protestors held signs urging the Obama administration to take the next and final legal step.
“We’ve been waiting for one year, and now we will continue to the Supreme Court due to the Fifth District Court decision,” Dominguez said. “We hope the Supreme Court will be more dignified and just in allowing us to stay in this country.”
Veronica Rosas, who has resided in Summit County for nearly a decade, gave an emotionally-charged speech that elicited more than her own tears, as she told those assembled that DAPA would help millions of families who live with ever looming threat of deportation on a daily basis.
She noted the U.S. will continue to be a second home for millions of immigrants.
“We reject the deportation and separation of families,” he said. “We are human are we deserve an opportunity just like any other person.”
It appears the pleas of the Silverthorne contingent and other immigration reform advocates were heard, as the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Nov. 20 that it would petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
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