Immigration Win in Supreme Court

The nation’s labor unions strive to represent all workers, whatever their immigration status, and include as members many mixed-status families. For this reason the AFL-CIO welcomed the recent Supreme Court decision that preserved the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka greeted the news as “a victory for all working people”:

Today’s Supreme Court’s decision on DACA is a victory for all working people and a testament to the tenacity and vision of immigrant youth whose leadership made it possible. For years, hardworking Dreamers, and their families and supporters, have fought for the simple right to live and work without fear in our country. With this decision, the Supreme Court allowed working people to move forward with our fight to bring equal rights and protections to all workers, regardless of our race or place of birth…

Our entire workforce has benefited from DACA, and those benefits will now continue. This program helps to raise wages, support a stable workforce and reduce exploitation in our country.  The lessons of DACA make clear that the right way to protect workers is by expanding rights and protections, rather than ramping up enforcement tactics that spread fear in our workplaces and communities. Dreamers’ contributions have been vital for this nation, including on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and America’s unions will continue to stand proudly with them in the struggle for justice by working to secure long overdue immigration reforms.

The DACA program covers those undocumented immigrants brought here as children; many of them have no memories of their countries of origin and identify only as American. Under DACA, these children (often known as “dreamers”) are given provisional status and permitted to work and study; they are considered a low priority for immigration enforcement, and most DACA supporters hope that an eventual comprehensive immigration reform will secure them a permanent legal status.

The White House sought to eliminate the DACA program, established under President Obama, but the Court found that the administration had not provided sufficient legal justification for the radical change in immigration enforcement. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which had submitted an amicus brief supporting the “Dreamers,” similarly hailed the ruling and urged the president to reconsider its plans to terminate DACA:

We welcome the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision noting that the Trump Administration did not follow proper administrative procedures required to repeal the DACA program.

First, to DACA youth, through today’s decision and beyond, we will continue to accompany you and your families. You are a vital part of our Church and our community of faith. We are with you.

Next, we urge the President to strongly reconsider terminating DACA. Immigrant communities are really hurting now amidst COVID-19 and moving forward with this action needlessly places many families into further anxiety and chaos. In times of uncertainty, let us remember the teachings of the Gospel which encourage us to be open and receptive to those in need: ‘If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?’ (1 John 3:17). In this moment, we must show compassion and mercy for the vulnerable.

Lastly, we strongly encourage our U.S. Senators to immediately pass legislation that provides a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Permanent legislative protection that overcomes partisanship and puts the human dignity and future of Dreamers first is long overdue.

The nation’s labor movement and the American Church continue to strive for a comprehensive immigration reform, one that will include earned citizenship for otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants who have contributed to the nation with their labor.