The Hill (Op-Ed)
By Janet Murguia
November 20, 2015
It is hard to describe the joy millions of American families experienced a year ago today when President Obama announced two programs that would provide relief from deportation for many immigrants in our country who are rooted in community and family. It was visceral, the kind of joy that grips your soul until tears well up. It is not often a public policy pronouncement has that kind of immediate, deeply emotional effect. But that is what the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program did.
After a decade of ad nauseam debate on immigration in which the latest chapter was House leadership’s aggressive refusal to vote on Senate bipartisan legislation, communities were in desperate need of relief. While some politicians talk about immigrants as if they are separate from the rest of America, the reality is that they are our coworkers, our friends, and our families. That day, millions of U.S.-citizen children, of spouses, family, and friends alike, felt that the constant anxiety of having a loved one forever plucked from their lives without notice might finally go away.
One has to imagine the depth of that relief to begin to understand the equally visceral reaction to seeing it blocked. Instead of a year in which millions of undocumented immigrants could have done what our country wants—come forward, pay a fee, get vetted, work legally—we remain mired in a fight in which opposing the president takes precedence over economic, political, and moral benefits.
The Republican governors and attorneys general leading the lawsuit to block DACA expansion and DAPA may think they are suing the administration, but in reality they are suing all of us. By standing in the way of these programs they are denying us 29,000 new jobs that would be created every year if these programs were implemented. They are denying us $230 billion that would be added to the U.S. GDP over the next decade. They are denying us the security of having people come forward and go through criminal background checks. And they are denying us the chance to help millions of kids no longer live in a state of fear.
We are hopeful that as the Department of Justice appeals this case to the Supreme Court, reason and precedent will prevail. Because the record is clear—since the end of World War II, presidents of both parties have used discretionary powers on multiple occasions and for an extensively wide range of reasons to protect various groups from deportation.
But when the verdict comes, it will not just affect those immigrants and their American families. It will leave an indelible mark that will haunt those intent on prolonging that suffering for the sake of scoring a political point. Nowhere is this more evident than among Latinos—76 percent of whom are United States citizens—who understand not only the consequences of inaction on immigration policy, but the destructive effect of dog-whistle politics on the fabric of our country. Their view of the GOP brand is being poisoned by this intransigence and by the escalating toxicity taking hold of the campaign trail. It is mind-boggling that after Republican pundits affirmed Mitt Romney’s adoption of “self-deportation” in 2012 as a costly electoral mistake, the 2016 frontrunner has resurrected Operation Wetback, a shameful chapter in our history that resulted in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens.
I believe Latinos’ rejection of this demagoguery, as illustrated by their overwhelmingly negative views of these candidates, is an early indication of how Americans of good conscience will react to politicians who either seek to stir intolerance or play along. And given the new level of shameful rhetoric being spewed about refugees at the moment, we can all use a strong reminder about the need to reject the politics of fear that bear no resemblance to who we are as a country.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com