Last week’s split decision in the U.S. Supreme Court that continues to block implementation of Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a bitter disappointment. It’s devastating for hundreds of thousands of California families who will continue to live in fear of family separation due to deportation, it deprives hundreds of thousands of people of the chance to have affordable health care, and it continues to leave thousands of workers vulnerable to exploitation based on their immigration status.
But the Supreme Court’s deadlock isn’t all bad news.. There are three important things to know:
- DAPA and expanded DACA are not dead. The Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of these programs, but rather merely whether the injunction that blocked them from going forward should be lifted. The 4-4 deadlock in the Court sets no national precedent. A legal battle over the merits of DAPA and the DACA expansion is only now beginning, with appeals and counter-appeals likely to follow. Much may depend on what the next President chooses to do.
- President Obama, in his remarks following the announcement of the Supreme Court’s deadlock, said that “the people who might have benefitted from the expanded deferred action policies — long-term residents raising children who are Americans or legal residents — will remain low priorities for enforcement.” While not as reassuring as having a work permit, the President signalled that no new enforcement effort will be aimed that those who would have qualified or DAPA or an expanded DACA.
- The Supreme Court’s deadlock does not change the 2012 DACA policy. Individuals who have already enrolled in the DACA program won’t be kicked out because of last week’s events.
These facts are cold comfort to those who were counting on DAPA or an expanded DACA to enable them to obtain work permits, the ability to travel overseas or across borders to see loved ones and then return, or to enroll in quality, affordable health care through Medi-Cal. The march toward justice just became longer, and for some, who have a health condition that needs attention sooner rather than later, it’s a march they may not be able to complete.
We know that the longer road to justice, whether it is ultimately won in the courts or in Congress, will also be bad for California’s economy. Undocumented Californians contribute over $3 billion a year to California in state and local taxes, which helps pay for schools, hospitals, parks, teachers and nurses — the very things that help keep communities healthy and safe. Through their own spending, undocumented Californians fuel local economies, by boosting small businesses and creating jobs. And yet we can’t give them access to the health care that is everyone’s human right. This isn’t fair, and it’s why we at The California Endowment will continue to fight for health justice, no matter how much longer the road becomes.