Today, the eight Justices on the United States Supreme Court divided equally on the question of whether President Obama had the legal authority to implement immigration relief for undocumented individuals who are the parents of United States-born children and for an expanded group of individuals under the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program. This non-decision decision by the Supreme Court means that hard-working, law-abiding individuals will continue to live in daily fear of separation from their United States citizen children. It also means that American children will live in daily fear of being separated from their parents.
Since the creation of the DACA program on June 15, 2012, East Coast Migrant Head Start Project (ECMHSP) has provided pro bono immigration services to farmworkers, helping them prepare applications under the DACA program. We have seen first-hand the wonderful impact the DACA program has had on young farmworkers who qualify. Farmworkers like Maria Sanchez of Gresham, South Carolina, have returned to school, obtained employment outside of the fields, and passed driver’s license tests – all as a result of their approved DACA applications. More importantly, farmworkers like Maria have been able to go about their daily lives without the fear that they would be detained and separated from their families.
Thousands of farmworkers whose children attend Head Start programs operated by ECMHSP would have benefitted from a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court. We are heart-broken that their path to a better, less-fearful life, has been blocked.
East Coast Migrant Head Start Project joins with our collaborative partners in calling on Congress to comprehensively address our country’s broken immigration system. Farmworkers ensure that our country has a safe and secure source of fresh fruits and vegetables. Indeed, what we, as Americans, have on our dining room table is what is given to us from the hands of farmworkers. The least we can do in return for this bounty is allow our farmworkers to live among us without fear.