San Jose, CA — Dozens of elected officials, community members, immigration rights activists, and allies gathered today at San Jose City Hall on the one year anniversary of President Obama’s executive action announcement that would provide 5 million people a work permit and relief from deportation through the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and the expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Representative Zoe Lofgren and Mayor Sam Liccardo joined the Santa Clara County Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform for a National Day of Action aimed at highlighting immigrant families, organizations, allies and supporters who are ready to move forward with DAPA and expanded DACA. They called on the Supreme Court to hear the case next year, and show the power of the immigrant vote in the 2016 election.
In the year since the President’s announcement, 26 states and a conservative court put the programs on hold, and anti-immigrant extremism has dominated political rhetoric in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. The recent decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, though disappointing for activists and the immigrant community, allows the Supreme Court enough time to take up the dispute next year. This morning, the US Department of Justice filed its request to have the case heard before the Supreme Court, where a favorable ruling would permit the administration to implement the DAPA and expanded DACA programs next summer, providing much-needed relief to the millions of undocumented families living in the shadows.
Activists and community leaders also called on President Obama to turn his attention to stopping deportations and keeping families together through other means while administrative relief remains in litigation. They called for a stop to programs such as the Priority Enforcement Program, or PEP, from infiltrating local jails, especially in Santa Clara County where the Board of Supervisors is currently considering participation in the federal program. Immigrant and criminal justice advocates believe that if local elected officials don't take action to stop the deportations and continued criminalization that immigrant communities are facing, they will erode trust within the immigrant community by instead instilling fear.
Earlier this year, the City of San Jose and the County of Santa Clara invested nearly $2 million towards the education and implementation of the DACA, DACA+ and DAPA programs
“One year ago, President Obama took action to bring our broken immigration system more in line with our national interest and our values as Americans. Unfortunately, conservative courts have since blocked some of these much-needed reforms from being carried out – and blocked the dreams of immigrant families in California and nationwide. While it is clear that these actions fall well within the President’s legal authority, Congress must still act to pass comprehensive immigration reform to provide certainty to hard-working, law-abiding immigrant families.” - Representative Zoe Lofgren
“We are a nation of immigrants and must recognize that the great majority of our immigrants follow the law and make meaningful contributions to our community. That is why I have proposed that the City of San José sign on to the amicus brief in support of DAPA, to help us keep otherwise law-abiding families together.” - San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo
“It’s time for the Supreme Court to do what is right for millions of families and dreams that have been put on hold. Our families, my family, work hard in this country for the American Dream, they too deserve the opportunity to succeed like I have been able to because of DACA. It is in our American values to provide that opportunity to all.” - Lucila Ortiz, 2012 DACA Recipient
“There is so much at stake for our immigrant community in next year’s election, and we need everyone who can, to vote. We need those who are eligible, to come forward and apply for citizenship so they can also register to vote. And we need all of you here to get your families, friends, and neighbors to register to vote and educate them so they can all be informed voters. I am not eligible to vote, so I call on my community today to be my voice next year at the ballot box” - Maria Cruz, DAPA eligible parent of US citizen children
“We are a community built and powered largely by immigrants from diverse cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds. Our rich diversity, which has led to great ideas and innovation, is what sets our Valley apart when competing on the global stage. In our tech community, we look after our own. This includes those of us who are undocumented. We don’t turn a blind eye when community members need urgent help.” - Josh Becker, CEO of Lex Machina
“I have seen the brightest of my friends forced to leave their jobs in the US because they were not lucky enough to pass the [H- 1B visa] lottery; I have had a job offer rescinded when the company realized I needed visa sponsorship. Coming to a new country was not easy - we left our families and had to overcome language, cultural and many other barriers. We came anyway, because we believed in a better life tomorrow and are willing to work hard for it. This is a value that different immigrant communities share.” - Jing Ran, Immigrant Tech Worker from Guangzhou, China
The Santa Clara County Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform is comprised of immigrant rights advocates, community, faith and labor organizations, and service providers coming together in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes a path to citizenship, worker protections, and family unity.