The June 23, 2016 4-4 tie decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Texas v. United States puts the hopes and dreams of millions of immigrants and their families on hold. This deadlock leaves in place, at least for now, a lower court decision halting the implementation of expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), effectively preventing an estimated 5 million unauthorized immigrants from gaining work authorization and protection from deportation. It will also prolong the worries and fears of an additional 6.4 million individuals who live in families with at least one DAPA-eligible adult; 85 percent of these families include U.S. citizen children.
The court’s decision leaves immigrants like Marisol, a low-income working mother of three, in limbo with her family’s future uncertain. Until a final ruling is reached, she and her U.S.citizen children will continue to live in fear of deportation and family separation, and her dream of pursuing a nursing degree and a career in the health profession will remain unrealized.
Reflecting our mission to help families live out of poverty, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina supports the resiliency and strength of families like Marisol’s in these uncertain and challenging times. We reaffirm the value and contributions of immigrants—and support organizations that provide vital services to children and families in need to ensure they are not exploited. Rooted in our core values of courage and collaboration, our Foundation’s Immigrant Family Initiative, launched in 2014, stands beside families in South Carolina impacted by the SCOTUS decision.
The Court’s vote does not affect the original DACA program, which—to date—has benefited nearly 730,000 individuals and their families. Philanthropy can support efforts to encourage hundreds of thousands of DACA-eligible immigrants to come forward, including those aging into eligibility and those who could qualify once they meet the program’s educational requirements.
Beyond this temporary setback, philanthropy—as well as stakeholders in the public and private sectors—should look to the longer-term challenge of reforming our nation’s immigration system. Philanthropy can invest in efforts to bring about policy change and in programs that facilitate immigrants’ social, economic and civic integration. Addressing both the immediate needs and the long-term challenges, we can ensure the future vitality and prosperity of our diverse communities.