Keep Calm and Stay Strong!

A federal district court in Texas temporarily blocked implementation of President Obama’s immigration actions last month, leaving millions of immigrants who had been counting on a chance at deportation relief and work authorization in limbo.

In a narrow ruling that did not address the constitutionality of these initiatives, the district court temporarily blocked both the implementation of the Deferred Actions for Parents of Americans and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The court based the decision on an argument that the federal government did not comply with rulemaking procedures under federal law.

It’s hard not to feel disheartened and bewildered by the ongoing immigration tug-of-war between Congress and the Obama administration. Now, of course, we can look forward to the spectacle of the courts joining the ruckus, throwing their considerable weight to one side or the other. Certain media, meanwhile, are permanent fixtures on the sidelines, exhorting all players to greater incivility and generally making sure that no one escapes a thorough dunking in the mud.

National Justice For Our Neighbors wishes to state clearly and emphatically that we view Judge Hanen’s injunction as a mere temporary setback.  The higher the case goes in the court system, the more likely judges are to side with the administration. We believe that it is a question of when, not if, these constitutionally sound programs will take effect. Therefore, our network will continue preparing for expanded DACA and DAPA to ensure that immigrant families are able to access this much-needed relief. We will also do all we can to ensure that our community members receive accurate information about the status of these programs.

So what can you do in the meantime as an advocate for our immigrant neighbors?

artwork by Jelene Morris
artwork by Jelene Morris

Stay involved: Volunteer your time, donate supplies, help in fundraising efforts, or find other meaningful ways to support the work of nonprofit immigration legal services providers, tax-preparing programs, and anti-fraud initiatives. The DAPA-eligible community will be seeking out trusted service providers for high-quality legal aid, to resolve their tax situations, to help them collect documents that demonstrate continuous residence in the United States, and to prove their maternity or paternity. It is essential that these organizations have the people and resources they need to better serve our immigrant neighbors.

Stay informed: We need to be clear on what administrative relief—DACA and DAPA—is and also what it isn’t. If we are to prevent this temporary injunction from having a demoralizing effect, public education is key. Members of the immigrant community are being bounced around in an endless political Ping-Pong match. They need to have reliable, straightforward information that will ease fear and confusion.  For the latest updates, please visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Stay mindful:  Lastly, funding local service providers will be crucial in the successful implementation of DAPA. Our JFON sites, for example, do not have the present capacity to meet the needs of all the DAPA-eligible in their communities. We need to hire more attorneys, hold more DAPA workshops and clinics, and continue hosting public education events on immigration issues. None of this will be possible without increased funding.

National Justice For Our Neighbors invites your comments and suggestions of how we can all best weather this difficult time together. Finally, we call on all people who work for justice to consider the counsel of Romans 12:12:

Be joyful in hope, patient in tribulation, and steadfast in prayer.