Some Seattle families see “glimmer of hope” in Obama’s deferred action programs

Maricela Osorio (right) wipes her eyes after getting emotional addressing a crowd at a rally supporting Obama's immigration actions in front of the federal building in downtown Seattle, while Casa Latina organizer Cariño Barragán (left) comforts her. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)
Casa Latina organizer Cariño Barragán (left) comforts Maricela Osorio (right) who gave an emotional address at a Seattle rally supporting Obama’s immigration actions. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)

Maricela Osorio came from Oaxaca, Mexico, to Seattle 15 years ago. She hopes that as the U.S. Supreme Court justices deliberate over Obama’s overhaul of immigration they think primarily of families.

“The people who come here didn’t come to do bad things. They came to work. They came to provide for their families,” said Osorio, whose three youngest daughters were born in the United States. “Families who immigrate come to give a better future for our children.”

On Monday the Supreme Court justices heard arguments on Obama’s 2014 executive actions on Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, known as DAPA, and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA.

The programs would temporarily protect from deportation qualified undocumented immigrants who pass a background check and application process, and would give successful applicants a Social Security number and permission to work.

DAPA applies to undocumented immigrants with minor children who are citizens or permanent residents. DACA applies to some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Texas and 25 other states challenged Obama’s 2014 executive action, arguing that the president has overstepped his authority, and the action has been suspended by the fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as the lawsuit has progressed.

Washington was among 16 states that made arguments to the court supporting the president’s action.

SCOTUSBlog covered the hearing, and noted that the justices’ lines of questioning seemed to indicate a 4-4 split.

According to Politico, a tie could put a halt to Obama’s overhaul by upholding the lower court’s suspension of the immigration actions, or by hearing the case again in the fall, which would give the administration little time to enact the policies. The justices are expected to make a decision in June, the news website reported.

Meanwhile, many families throughout the United States rallied on Monday in support of President Obama’s position, including immigrant worker rights organization Casa Latina in Seattle.

Marcos Martinez, the executive director of Casa Latina, said that while many are supportive of Obama’s actions, some are wary of stepping forward to apply because their immigration status could be affected by whoever happens to win the presidency in November — if the next president chooses to continue the program.

“As political as the Republicans in Congress have been on immigration… it’s been hard to say whether people will want to participate or not,” Martinez said, as the group rallied in front of the federal building in downtown Seattle on Monday.

The American Immigration Council found in a 2014 study of the first wave of DACA that many people who are eligible for DACA haven’t applied. The study found reasons including the $465 application fee, the lack of access to a lawyer and a fear of sending personal information to the government.

But for many people, even temporary protection is a “glimmer of hope,” Martinez said. “It’s having the chance to participate more fully.”

Osorio already knows what it’s like to be separated from a child. While Osorio lived and worked in the Seattle area for the past 15 years, her oldest daughter, now 18, remained in Oaxaca. She doesn’t want her youngest three to go through the same thing.

We don’t want to repeat the same history,” Osorio said.

Families organized by Casa Latina rallied in front of the federal building in Seattle on Monday. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)
Families organized by Casa Latina rallied in front of the federal building in Seattle on Monday. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)