Is the dream becoming a reality?
I'm still holding my breath, hoping it's for real.
I'm not pessimistic by nature. It's just hard for me to accept that immigration reform advocates could get two consecutive pieces of good news without worrying about the threat of bad news waiting in the wings.
I'm talking about President Obama's executive decision last month to halt the deportations of certain young people who were brought to the United States as children and do not present a risk to public safety plus the news that the US Supreme Court has ruled three of the four key provisions in Arizona's landmark immigration law to be unconstitutional.
Under President Obama's “Deferred-Action” process, nearly 1 million young undocumented immigrants may qualify for 2-year work permits without the threat of deportation. General guidelines were issued in a directive from the US Department of Homeland Security on June 15th but individual applications for the program will not be accepted until mid-August. See page __ for more details.
Two weeks ago the US Supreme Court gutted key provisions of Arizona's SB1070 law, ruling that: Arizona police cannot arrest individuals without a warrant if they believe them to be deportable immigrants; immigrants who fail to carry federal registration papers are not guilty of a state crime: and that immigrants who seek or accept work without authorization are not guilty of a state crime.
The Supreme Court did uphold Arizona's so-called “show me your papers” provision, the right of police to demand “papers” and investigate immigration status if they suspect a person is undocumented. But according to Atlanta attorney, Charles Kuck, past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, that part of the law cannot be enforced without engaging in illegal racial profiling.
“The show me your papers provision must be NARROWLY construed and enforced in order for it to remain constitutional, essentially inviting further challenges should there be any hint of racial profiling in its enforcement.” Kuck said. “In order to enforce a show-me-your-papers provision, the State would have to check the immigration status of EVERY person, in EVERY stop, for EVERY crime, EVERY time. Short of doing this, racial profiling will occur, since there could be NO other legitimate way to determine someone's immigration status.”
Five other states, including Georgia, have patterned their own versions of immigration enforcement after the Arizona law so I'm very hopeful this ruling by the US Supreme Court will strengthen legal challenges to Georgia's HB87 and send Georgia lawmakers scrambling back to the drawing board.
And what about the bad news I worry about? Where might it come from?
First of all, any time there is talk of a substantive change to US immigration policy, the cheats and scoundrels all crawl out of the woodwork looking to rip-off unsuspecting immigrants. The website unitedwedream.org offers some very good advice, including the following: 1) Don't use the services of anyone promising to get you a green card as the result of the new Obama policy. Only a new law from the US Congress can change an immigrant's legal status.This ruling will only grant two-year work permits to qualified applicants. 2) Before using the services of an attorney, make sure they are members of their state bar association. (You can search for your state's bar association membership online). 3) Don't give anyone money yet since there is no application process at this time. We have been hearing stories all around the country about people taking advantage of the immigrant community. They advertise their services to “help” young immigrants apply for deferred action under the new Obama policy and charge hundreds or thousands of dollars.
My other big worry is strictly political in nature.
If the President of the United States has the power to single-handedly change the priorities of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) without congressional approval, then what will happen if Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, wins the election in November? Won't Romney, an avowed enemy of the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, then have the power to cancel all of Obama's directives and reverse course on all the positive changes initiated by President Obama?
Of course, like all fears, the best way to address these two is head-on. Educate yourself about the new Obama policy, then share that knowledge with your family and friends. And if you are eligible, register to vote tomorrow. That way you will have the power to stop dream-killers like Mitt Romney from gaining political power.