The June 23, 2016, Supreme Court deadlock on United States in Texas v. United States puts the hopes and dreams of millions of immigrants and their families on hold. The split decision leaves in place a lower court decision halting the implementation of expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), effectively preventing an estimated 5 million unauthorized immigrants from gaining work authorization and protection from deportation.
As a community foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation works to strengthen the common good for our region’s residents. Despite the setback represented by the Supreme Court deadlock, we will continue to support the resiliency and strength of families in our communities during these uncertain and challenging times. We look to the longer-term challenge of reforming our nation’s immigration system and continue to support critical outreach and legal services work, including:
- Community outreach and education on what relief options are available. The original DACA program is not affect by the decision. Ongoing efforts are needed to encourage hundreds of thousands of DACA-eligible immigrants to come forward, including those aging into eligibility and those who could qualify once they meet the program’s educational requirements. Community education and outreach would go a long way to keep immigrant communities engaged and to make sure immigrants do not succumb to fraudulent immigration schemes.
- Legal screenings for other potential immigration benefits. It’s estimated that 15 percent of immigrants who come in to see legal services organizations about DACA actually qualify for other more permanent options.
- Naturalization and citizenship efforts and get-out-the-vote work. Policy change will only come about with substantial pressure on our elected representatives by an educated and invested citizenry. This election cycle is an opportunity to catalyze first-time and infrequent voters to participate in the electoral process and make their voices heard.
- Outreach to hard-to-reach DACA eligible individuals. There are still a significant number of DACA-eligible immigrants who have not taken advantage of the program due to language barriers, geography, fear, misinformation etc.
- Fraud prevention. When individuals feel desperate, they are more susceptible to fraudulent and bogus promises for immigration solutions.
- Work to gather and prepare documents. All relief options require specific documents that prove eligibility. Many times this means submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents, working to expunge criminal records, requesting proof-of-identity documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.) or gathering several years of tax and employment records. All this takes time and an understanding of the legal system.
We are at a critical juncture. SVCF reaffirms the value and contributions of immigrants —and we support organizations that provide vital services to children and families in need to ensure that they are not exploited or defrauded. Though we are greatly disappointed by the recent decision, our commitment to improving life for immigrants is fierce and our hope for a better future is unending.
Read more about SVCF’s immigration grantmaking.