By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR
(Originally posted 11/20/2015 on The Hill’s Congress Blog.)
It is hard to describe the joy millions of American families experienced a year ago today when President Obama announced two programs that would provide relief from deportation for many immigrants in our country who are rooted in community and family. It was visceral, the kind of joy that grips your soul until tears well up. It is not often a public policy pronouncement has that kind of immediate, deeply emotional effect. But that is what the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program did.
After a decade of ad nauseam debate on immigration in which the latest chapter was House leadership’s aggressive refusal to vote on Senate bipartisan legislation, communities were in desperate need of relief. While some politicians talk about immigrants as if they are separate from the rest of America, the reality is that they are our coworkers, our friends, and our families. That day, millions of U.S.-citizen children, of spouses, family, and friends alike, felt that the constant anxiety of having a loved one forever plucked from their lives without notice might finally go away.
One has to imagine the depth of that relief to begin to understand the equally visceral reaction to seeing it blocked. Instead of a year in which millions of undocumented immigrants could have done what our country wants—come forward, pay a fee, get vetted, work legally—we remain mired in a fight in which opposing the president takes precedence over economic, political, and moral benefits.
(Read the entire post at The Hill)