All summer, you’ve taken action in support of the unaccompanied minors and families who trekked from Central America to the United States seeking relief from the violence and poverty ravaging their homes.
Sadly, they’re getting no help from Congress. Instead of coming to the aid of these refugees, the Senate promoted legislation that would have made it easier to deport them right back to the circumstances from which they fled, and the House of Representatives passed one of the most virulently anti-immigrant bills of all time.
That means President Obama is the last hope for these children and families. In the next few weeks, he is expected to issue an executive order ending deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants.1 But unless his order stops deportations entirely, immigrant children and families could still be sent back to their homes — and their possible deaths.
And in fact, some reports indicate that the order would only benefit up to 5 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are waiting for relief.2 This could mean millions more deportations and separated families in the years to come. We can’t accept this.
The Obama Administration’s aggressive immigration enforcement agenda has led to over 2 million deportations that have only broken endless numbers of families apart and instilled fear in our communities. His executive action would represent a major reversal, but it’s unclear at this point what exactly the President will do while he awaits recommendations from Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
The truth is that the possibilities being floated so far may not protect the children, their families, and countless others. One option would grant temporary legal status to family members of the more than 550,000 undocumented youth currently benefiting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Another option could grant temporary protected status to parents and legal guardians of U.S. citizens, estimated at 3.8 million immigrant parents. But those options alone would not cover the children. Even making deferred-action available to anyone that would qualify under the Senate immigration reform bill of 2013 would only cover up to 8.3 of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in need of relief.3
There is a lot of uncertainty, but what we do know is that it’s up to the President to act now. Congress won’t do anything to these kids that doesn’t involve deportation. The Senate worked on a bill, misleadingly named the HUMANE Act, that would have hastened deportations for many of them. And in the House of Representatives, Republicans approved one of the most anti-immigrant pieces of legislation in generations to further militarize the border and take away humanitarian protections for children refugees.4
But with Central American children still streaming across the border to escape violent gangs and crushing poverty in their home countries, President Obama must do the right thing — grant relief for all of the undocumented immigrants in need of relief!
Thanks and ¡adelante!
Arturo, Refugio, Mariana, and the rest of the Presente.org Team
P.S. Can you donate $5 to support our work? We rely on contributions from people like you to see campaigns like this through.
1. Obama Is Preparing To Make One Of The Boldest Moves Of His Presidency — And It Could Stretch The Scope Of Executive Power, Business Insider, August 6, 2014
2. White House pursuing plan to expand immigrant rights, The LA Times, July 25, 2014
3. Immigration crisis forces Obama to ‘act alone’ with executive orders, The Guardian, August 4, 2014
4. House passes $694 million border bill, CNN, August 2, 2014