Obama Executive Actions on Immigration: Immigrant Rights Groups Call for DACA Recipients' Families' Protection
National immigrant rights groups are calling for President Barack Obama to use his imminent immigration executive action to protect families of DACA recipients.
The national immigrant rights groups explained why an affirmative relief package by Obama is necessary despite the political backlash. United We Dream (UWD) Managing Director Cristina Jimenez said a "strong message" has to be sent to Obama that he has already failed on his promises toward immigrants by "choosing politics over families" and "we won't take anymore excuses." Jimenez added UWD will hold the Obama accountable to stop deporting families from the U.S.
Jimenez said UWD will continue to "escalate efforts" to ensure Obama doesn't deliver another broken promise and wants the president to "protect as many people from our community as possible."
As Latin Post reported, Obama originally scheduled to announce an immigration policy executive action by late August or early September based on recommendations from the Department of Justice and Homeland Security. By early September, Obama announced a delay of the immigration executive action until after the Nov. 4 Election Day.
According to Penn State's Center for Immigrants Rights Clinic Director Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Obama has the legal authority to issue an executive action on immigration since the authority is "grounded in the Constitution," the immigration statue and other regulations recognized by federal judges even with conservative ideologies. She noted DACA -- the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program created by Obama's executive action in 2012 -- provided a good lesson as to how a "system should work" based on its outcomes, consistency and transparency.
National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié said Obama a "historical opportunity" with the looming executive action, but only if he acts relief to all family members that have benefited from DACA. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 553,197 undocumented immigrants are DACA recipients and therefore deferred from deportation based on certain criteria.
Hincapié said Obama's opponents will be "enraged" regardless of the executive action's impact, whether it provides relief to one million immigrants or more.
"Obama has an opportunity to do what's best for the country," said Hincapié, adding that undocumented immigrations want to contribute to the U.S.
She said providing broad relief for the families of DACA recipients includes the opportunity for these individuals to pay taxes, which may boost the economy.
Diego Mariaca, a DACA recipient living in Virginia, said he no longer has to "live in fear" from deportation as a result of Obama's 2012 executive action. Mariaca said DACA has been "effective" and should be expanded as it provides job and academic opportunists. Mariaca, who attends Northern Virginia Community College, said an executive action similar to DACA would help the U.S. economy "greatly." However, Mariaca still fears for his mother, Ingrid Vaca, who remains undocumented and could be deported.
Vaca has been in the U.S. for 14 years and has been a housekeeper in Virginia. She also shared her story and applauded DACA as a "victory for the community" but it has kept the recipients' parents "in the shadows." Vaca said it will be a major step if Obama's upcoming executive action ensures parents knowing their children won't have to worry about families being split up by deportation.
Hincapié said the executive action should come regardless of the midterm election outcome.
"I don't think the outcome of the senate will play a role," said Hincapié, adding this is an action the president should have taken months ago, and Obama has "broad legal authority" to take action.
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