Loyola University New Orleans Jesuit Social Research Institute Reacts to SCOTUS Decision on DACA
(New Orleans – June 18, 2020) – Today, the Supreme Court issued a decision regarding the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program established in June 2012 to provide work authorization and a temporary reprieve from deportation for young, eligible undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the U.S. as children. Since its inception, hundreds of thousands of immigrant youths have applied for the program, which required applicants to provide the government with extensive evidence of one’s identity, age, educational attainment, and good moral character. Through the DACA program, young immigrants, including currently 1,750 DACA recipients in Louisiana, have pursued higher education and better job opportunities and deepened their ties to communities throughout the U.S.
This morning, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration may not immediately proceed with its plan to end DACA, which protects almost 700,000 young immigrants, known as Dreamers, from deportation. Chief Justice Roberts, who penned the opinion for the majority, wrote in the decision that the government failed to give adequate justification for ending the federal program.
Although the administration could try again to shut down DACA by offering a more detailed explanation for its action, many pundits believe the White House may not want to end such a popular program in the heat of a presidential election. In the meantime, DACA recipients may continue to work, pursue higher education, and follow their dreams, contributing to the country they love and consider their home.
“Students’ lives had already been upended by measures taken to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. From suddenly having to leave campus, resume studies on-line, and live in households adjusting to the requirements of social distancing, the uncertainty and stress students have been facing are substantial," said Loyola University New Orleans President Tania Tetlow. “This news will alleviate the tremendous fear and uncertainty Dreamer students were dealing with regarding the future of DACA.”
“A substantial portion of our students’ parents have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Parental job loss is even more likely in DACA students’ households where parents’ undocumented immigration status makes job security precarious in the best of times,” adds Sue Weishar, Ph.D., Migration Specialist for the Jesuit Social Research Institute (JSRI) at Loyola.
“The income that DACA recipients bring to these households is more crucial now than ever. In addition, an estimated 27,000 DACA recipients are healthcare providers, including doctors. This was no time to force much needed medical professionals from the frontlines of the battle to protect Americans from COVID-19 and efforts to provide the best care possible for those who have contracted the virus. That DACA will continue is a ray of hope for so many struggling families.”
DACA recipients nationwide are thrilled by the SCOTUS decision, which will allow Dreamers to continue with their educational and career goals and live their lives without the constant fear of being deported from the country they know and love to countries many barely remember.
States Cinthia Padilla-Ortiz, a DACA recipient who graduated from Loyola's College of Law in May and is now studying for the bar, “I was praying for a favorable decision and to be allowed to contribute to worthwhile and humanitarian causes, such as workers’ rights and immigrant rights issues, without being constantly distracted by worries of deportation. DACA provides me the freedom to focus on the rigorous study of the law, and to become a skilled lawyer.”
Continues Ms. Padilla-Ortiz, “I am American. The American way and the American educational curriculum are the only ones I have known since being brought to the U.S. from Mexico as a one year-old. I deeply love and respect American ideals and values of justice, liberty, and equality for all. I am immensely proud of my Mexican heritage, but the country that I love, hope to serve, and give my loyalty to is the United States. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to be educated as an American, and now, as an adult, I want to serve my country with my legal and advocacy skills and help meet the needs of our local community of New Orleans, our state, and our country. Words can hardly express the joy and relief I am feeling now knowing that the DACA program will continue.”
Attorney Salvador Longoria Loyola, a double alumnus and long-time Latino community leader, understands how important DACA has been to young Dreamers like Ms. Padilla-Ortiz, and the contributions immigrants make to American life. He states, “I came to this country as a four-year-old. I did all of my schooling here in New Orleans' parochial schools. I was then fortunate enough to graduate from Loyola and then Loyola Law School. But, were it not for a special status that had been carved out for immigrants/exiles arriving from Cuba in the 1960s, I could be a Dreamer. The thought that I could then be sent back to another country I barely know after living and succeeding here all my life and into adulthood is unfair and horrific. DACA recipients are Americans, and they have contributed immensely to the communities where they live. Their culture, careers, families, and successes are American; and they should be embraced and lifted up for their hard work, educational excellence, and determination. These Dreamers who came to the United States as children know only one country as theirs, the U.S. They represent the highest ideals of what it means to be a nation of immigrants.”
DACA recipients are the parents to over 346,000 U.S. born children under the age of 18. Fr. Fred Kammer, S.J., JSRI Executive Director and a national expert on Catholic Social Teaching states, “Loyola University New Orleans is a Catholic, Jesuit institution. A key principle of Catholic Social Teaching is the primacy of the family, where children learn moral virtues, form their consciences, and find their place in the world. If DACA had been rescinded, it would have been unconscionable and immoral to deport undocumented parents away from their children in the midst of a pandemic.”
College of Law Dean Madeleine Landrieu added: “During this crisis, Americans of different backgrounds and political leanings have joined together to fight the spread of the virus and care for our most vulnerable. DACA recipients serve in our military, contribute to our economy as legal advocates, health care professionals, teachers, scientists, and business owners, and together with their families make our communities and our nation a better place. Recent polls find that voters overwhelmingly support legislation to allow Dreamers to remain in the U.S., including a Fox News poll that found that 83 percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. With today’s SCOTUS decision these young people will be able to continue to contribute to this country in so many meaningful ways.”
Concludes Dr. Weishar, “This nation has always benefitted from those daring to dream a better future for themselves and their families. The SCOTUS decision today ensures that young immigrant Dreamers may continue to work and study without fear of deportation. But DACA has always been a stop-gap measure. The U.S. is home to almost ten million undocumented immigrants, many of whom are essential, front-line workers in the pandemic response effort and include farm laborers, meat and poultry process workers, and health care aides. Their human potential is being thwarted by our nation’s outdated immigration laws. Our leaders must now come together to finally enact comprehensive immigration reform that will tap into that human potential and keep families together by providing an earned path to citizenship.”