The Recent SCOTUS Decision You Shouldn't Forget This July 4
As you sit down to a barbecue with your family this Fourth of July, there's one SCOTUS ruling that you shouldn't forget, United States v. Texas. That's because thanks to the court's 4-4 tie, millions of American families are at risk of being separated from one another. Two of President Obama's key immigration programs, DAPA and an expanded DACA, were suspended, affecting about 5 million people. Independence Day should celebrate the ideals of the United States and its people — and yet our immigration policies currently betray both.
We're a nation built on immigrants. All but 2 percent of Americans find their roots outside the United States, and yet we're deporting those following in our ancestors' footsteps. If the same rules applied to these DAPA- and DACA-eligible residents that applied to the Irish, Italian, and other immigrants in past centuries, most would already be eligible for citizenship and could celebrate July 4 as full and equal members of society.
But we're not just harming those who would apply to DAPA. According to the Migration Policy Institute, some 10 million American households have at least one family member who would benefit from the policy. Think of the stress having a parent without papers would cause. You'd never know if they'd be there when you got home from school. Try thriving in those kind of circumstances. Imagine trying to enjoy your burgers and corn on the cob when INS agents could show up. The American flag on your front porch wouldn't make the slightest of difference.
But it's not just SCOTUS that's to blame. The opinion was nine words long: "The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court." That's right, if the Senate had initiated confirmation proceedings on Judge Merrick Garland to replace Justice Scalia, perhaps we would be celebrating a win for decency and American families. Instead the immigration system continues as broken as ever.
Plus, Congress is responsible for the bigger problem. It has shirked its responsibilities in fixing immigration law for more than a decade. Obama would have preferred a comprehensive reform bill to piecemeal executive actions, but there's been no movement on the matter since he came into office nearly eight years ago.
SCOTUS and congressional Republicans continue to exclude DAPA- and DACA-eligible applicants bureaucratically from the country they call home. But they don't give up on the dream of being full and equal Americans under the law. Just look at Jose Antonio Vargas' response to the decision: "I am not going anywhere."
While celebrating the ideals of this great country this July 4, don't forget the 10 million families our laws would currently separate. Then on Tuesday call your senators and representatives to tell them pass immigration reform and confirm another SCOTUS justice.