When one member of a family living in California is a U.S. citizen and others are undocumented immigrants, the risk of deportation is an ongoing threat to the family’s stability. This is especially true when the citizen is a minor child and the separation could remove the parent who is the breadwinner and caregiver. Immigration reform on the state and federal levels has attempted to address this problem.
The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents is a federal program introduced by Pres. Obama which would have allowed undocumented parents of U.S. citizens under the age of 18 to stay in the country and work legally. The DAPA program was suspended while federal judges reviewed a lawsuit claiming that the president did not have the authority to bypass the approval of Congress and enforce this program through an executive order.
The argument against the program stated that the president may prevent the deportation of an individual, but this power does not extend to protection for a large group of people, such as the millions of undocumented parents who might have been affected. An appeal took the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, where there are currently only eight justices because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The result is a tied decision that prevents the plan from moving forward.
Immigration reform is not necessarily the only method available for keeping families together in California. An immigration attorney may be able to help identify whether there are other resources that an undocumented immigrant may be eligible for in order to prevent a separation caused by deportation.
Source: New York Times, “Supreme Court Tie Blocks Obama Immigration Plan,” Adam Liptak and Michael D. Shear, June 23, 2016