Millions of Americans are disappointed in the Supreme Court's tied ruling on President Obama's immigration plan, which upheld the Appeals Court's decision and put his legacy-defining policy on hold — none moreso than the five million undocumented immigrants who would have been shielded from deportation and allowed to legally work. Among them is journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, and he is not taking the decision quietly. Alluding to the SCOTUS decision on Twitter, Vargas responded to the haters that he's here to stay: "I am not going anywhere."
A "Christian" conservative hater on Twitter tweeted an ABC News story on the decision with a message to Vargas, tagging his Twitter handle. "Time to deport arrogant @joseiswriting," he wrote. That led Vargas to respond and explain what the ruling means to him personally. He said that if the immigration plan had been upheld, it would have reconnected him with family. "I could have applied to travel outside US for humanitarian reasons and visit my Mom, who I haven't seen for 22 years," he wrote. Vargas came to the United States at the age of 12. He was born in the Philippines, but his mother sent him to live with his grandparents in northern California.
In theory, the United States already has a program to address his situation. It's called DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Obama announced it one year after Vargas came out as undocumented in a New York Times Magazine essay and just a day after Time magazine featured Vargas on the cover. The one problem? Vargas had just turned 31, and thus did not qualify.
The immigration plan which SCOTUS killed — at least temporarily — would have removed that restriction on DACA that applicants be 30 years of age or younger. It also would have expanded the program to cover children who had entered before January 2010; currently, they must have entered by June 2007. The revised Obama plan also introduced DAPA, the parallel program for parents of young immigrants, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. Nearly four million undocumented residents would have qualified for the new plans. The existing 1.2 million DACA benefits also would have seen their deportation referrals expanded from two to three years.
But the setback doesn't mean that Vargas has given up. Through the organization he helped start, Define America, Vargas released a statement:
Among the things America, its history and its people has really taught me: You don’t give up. You move forward. You fight on.
By definition, immigrants are resilient, resourceful, courageous people.
We will not give up. I will not give up.
One of the ways Vargas hopes to keep fighting is by advocating for immigration-friendly presidential candidates. It's pretty safe to say that Trump will not be his choice. Vargas pointed to the November election as a turning point in the fight for immigration reform. "This election is about how we define American," Vargas wrote. He also retweeted fellow immigration campaigners who wrote, "4 million lives waiting for relief. 4 million lives on hold. An entire immigrant community ready for November," with the hashtag #HereToStay.
He also retweeted posts from Define American. The group's goal is to "shift conversation about immigrants, identity and citizenship in a changing America." Among the Define American posts Vargas retweeted Thursday were messages of strength and solidarity. "Being a patriotic American is about more than pieces of paper," one tweet read. That may be true, but a fair-minded Supreme Court would have provided the safety and security — and opportunity — that papers offer.