As I talk to people throughout our region, all of them agree our immigration system is broken.
There are approximately 110,000 immigrants in the 1st District and only half are naturalized citizens, meaning nearly 60,000 face the prospect of deportation. In an attempt to correct this crisis, President Obama took reasonable steps within the office’s well-established authority to provide temporary relief to the families being torn apart by our current system.
Implementing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was an important first step. It gave some relief to children brought to the United States — also known as Dreamers — by their parents. But it is a temporary stopgap measure that keeps people from being deported for a few years.
I was encouraged to see the president expand DACA and institute Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) to help alleviate a little of the uncertainty that undocumented immigrants, particularly parents, face every day.
But on Monday, April 18, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in United States v. Texas, a case that questions those lawful actions.
There is one inspiring Dreamer from our community who I’ve gotten to know particularly well and who will be greatly affected by the ruling. His name is Juan Macedo.
Last year, Juan graduated from high school as an honor student. He now takes classes at Skagit Valley College and regularly volunteers at his church and the local food bank.
Like many other Dreamers, Juan was brought to the United States as a child — he was 9 — but because he arrived a few weeks after the deadline for DACA, he didn’t qualify for temporary relief under the president’s first executive action. He does, however, qualify under the president’s new actions — those being challenged in court.
Juan wants to stay in his home, continue his education and build a brighter future for himself, his family and his community. We need an immigration system that supports, not deports, students like Juan.
The president took lawful action to help families like the Macedos who are being torn apart by our current system. If Republicans take issue with that, they should stop obstructing meaningful debate and allow a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.
As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I’ve continuously pushed to enact comprehensive immigration reform, including by helping introduce the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act (H.R. 15) during the last Congress.
Instead of taking up this bipartisan legislation, Speaker Paul Ryan recently held a partisan and disappointing vote on filing an anti-immigrant amicus brief with the Supreme Court for U.S. v Texas. He has declared comprehensive immigration reform off-limits for the year.
Sadly, the chances of Congress moving immigration reform right now are effectively zero, especially when some presidential candidates are riling up their base with xenophobic, polarizing rhetoric.
But the Supreme Court can put an end to the debate on the president’s lawful actions. Doing so would help create a climate where both sides finally come together to work on a comprehensive solution that reduces visa backlogs, creates an earned pathway to citizenship and keeps families together.
— Democratic U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene represents Congressional District 1, which spans from northeast King County to the Canadian border, and includes parts of Skagit, King, Snohomish and Whatcom counties.