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Arizona Dream Act Coalition Prepares Valley Families For Supreme Decision On Immigration Challenge

Published: Thursday, June 2, 2016 - 4:14pm
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The Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on a legal challenge to the Obama administration's immigration programs for young people who came to the United States as children and their parents. Until they do, many families here in Arizona are left waiting to learn their fate.

But, the Arizona Dream Act Coalition (ADAC) wants them to be ready.

“We really have high hopes that we’re going to have a ruling in our favor,” according to ADAC President Karina Ruiz. “And, if that’s the case, we don’t want our community to have to wait.”

So, they’re working to get the word out to their community about the impending decision to help prepare immigrant families here for the outcome. ADAC held a community meeting to help families prepare last weekend and Ruiz said they will be holding more as the expected decision gets closer.

In 2012, President Obama announced an executive action on immigration, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program to give temporary legal status and work permits to young people who came to the United States. as children.

Then, in 2014, Obama announced the expansion of that program as well as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), a similar program for their parents. These programs could provide deportation relief for more than 5 million people in the country now, according to ADAC.

But, they have been put on hold because 26 states, including Arizona, joined a lawsuit challenging the president’s authority to do it. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case in June.

Ruiz said they want families to be ready for a positive or a negative outcome.

“If we have a negative decision, this is not the end of it, we can still prepare to do something else,” she said. “Even though it might be tough to, kind of, hear that, we have to be ready,” she said.

In the meantime, she said families can prepare for the application process if the court rules to let the program go forward.

Based on the requirements for the original DACA program, Ruiz said applicants will likely have to prove that they have continuously have lived in the United States since January of 2010, that they were present in the country on the day the program was announced in 2014, and they can’t have a felony on their record or some misdemeanors.

She said families ask them about who is eligible and the costs related. But, they also are scared that if they apply for a program the next president could take it away.

“People are really worried about that because then they think now ‘immigration’ has my information, what are they going to do with it?” she said. “I think that people don’t really trust. And … that’s why it’s hard also to get people to apply to these kind of programs.”

She said they tell those families that it’s worth applying and that the pros outweigh the cons.

“Let’s take it a step at a time and let’s just take advantage of the program while we have it for DACA,” she said. “And if we are able to implement these other executive orders, then let’s take advantage of that, because that will help us set a foundation, and have at least an argument that we are contributing to the economy.”

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