Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Undocumented Parents Protest Block to Obama's DAPA Program on Day They Were Supposed to Start Applying

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Silvia Herrera hoped to submit her application for President Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program this morning. It frustrates her that she has to remain in limbo because a federal judge decided in February to temporarily block the relief.

On November 20, Herrera, her husband and their two children heard Obama had issued an executive action that gave parents of U.S. citizens and legal resident children a work permit and permission to remain in the country, at least for three years. (That same day, Obama also extended who can sign up for DACA, a program for young immigrants brought here as children.)

"We cried, we danced, we began to make plans and, above all, to dream," Herrera says in Spanish. She was part of a group outside the Arizona State Building earlier today, protesting the fact that it's been more than three months and millions still haven't been able to apply for DAPA. (The gathering was organized by Mi Familia Vota in solidarity to many other protests happening around the country.) "I started thinking I finally could get a job as a secretary, that is what I used to do in Mexico, my husband, too, began to think about all the good things, the economic and emotional stability this would bring us."

Herrera immigrated with her husband 17 years ago, looking for better opportunities than their native town of Obregón, Sonora could offer. Her daughter was almost 2 years old at the time. Four years later, her son was born in Tucson. 

Now 18 and 14, Herrera is happy that both her kids are en route to bright futures. Her daughter has a good job and is attending college to become a medical assistant thanks to Obama's 2012 DACA, and her son, well, he's a U.S. citizen and gets to enjoy everything that comes from that. But her family's tranquility and excitement isn't complete because she and her husband are here undocumented. And, who knows how long it will be until the 2014 immigration actions are allowed to moved forward (if they are given the green light that is).

"We cannot feel stable, when a cop pulls me over over a broken light, and my son is crying, thinking his mom will be deported," she says. "My husband goes to work, and if it's been an hour past when he usually gets home, I feel anxious. It is a constant fear, and our kids feel that, too."

In mid-April, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the federal government's emergency appeal of the temporary injunction, which was put in place while a lawsuit—on behalf of 26 states, including Arizona—trying to kill both programs plays out in the courts. 

(Applications for the extended DACA should have begun making their way into U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services back in February, and the plan was for USCIS to receive DAPA sign ups starting today. Still, immigration right advocates ask people to continue their plans to apply—gather your documents and get everything in order, so that when the programs are good to go, you won't delay the process further.)

"We have the confidence that this will pass, but we don't want to wait any longer, we have already waited too long," Herrera says. "It is frustrating that, the day we have been waiting for so long is here, and we can't do anything. It is not fair to separate families, we are not criminals, we came to this country to work and to find a better future for our families."

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