Hundreds of immigration activists have held protests at the US Supreme Court in support of President Barack Obama’s effort to offer temporary protection for undocumented immigrants.
Obama’s executive actions ran into opposition from conservative justices on the Supreme Court Monday, yet the outcome remains to be unclear.
His plan would grant temporary legal status and work permits to over 4 million parents who have entered the US illegally since 2010.
According to the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), undocumented immigrants who have a child that is a US citizen or is in the country legally and those who do not have a criminal record can remain protected from deportation temporarily.
On Monday, the protesters wore daisy-yellow T-shirts and carried bouquets of matching-colored balloons with some holding pink, heart-shaped posters that read “Keep Families Together!”
“We’re here to let our representatives know what our country deserves, what millions of undocumented families deserve,” said Nayely Ruiz, 21, a protester who spoke on behalf of the millions of families and friends that could benefit from DAPA.
“We are united by a single mission: We want the same rights for all,” said Sophie Cruz, a 6-year-old American citizen whose mother is eligible for DAPA. “I ask the judges to protect us children and all immigrants.”
The Supreme Court, with four conservative justices and four liberals, did not seem to be on the same page during 90 minutes of arguments in the case.
The case was brought by 26 states with Texas on top of them which sued to block Obama’s unilateral 2014 executive action that bypassed Congress.
“What we’re doing is defining the limits of discretion” for who the US government can and cannot deport, Justice Anthony Kennedy told US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. “And it seems to me that that is a legislative, not an executive, act.”
“That phrase, ‘lawful presence,’ has caused a terrible amount of confusion in this case,” Verrilli said. “We are not trying to change anybody’s legal status.”
The court’s more liberal justices said Obama’s program tells undocumented immigrants who qualify that, “you will not be deported unless we change our minds,” said Justice Elena Kagan.
In order for Obama to win, one of the court’s conservatives, most likely Chief Justice John Roberts or Kennedy need to support the president’s plan. However, they both hit Verrilli with various questions during the session.
Over 100,000 families have entered the US from its border with Mexico since 2014 to escape the violence gripping El Salvador and Honduras among other countries in Central America.