UNION COUNTY, NJ — On Thursday, March 10, Union County joined several other local advocates and officials to sign onto the amicus briefs filed in U.S. v. Texas, the Supreme Court case that will determine the fate of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The decision to unfreeze programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents will affect the lives of millions of undocumented immigrants and American families. Nearly 200,000 immigrants in New Jersey will be eligible for the programs should the Supreme Court pass uphold the executive action.
“I believe these programs will greatly help the economy and prevent families from being separated,” said Sara Cullinane of Make the Road New Jersey, an organization that works to protect the rights of immigrants. “If the executive actions are passed, five million undocumented workers will have work authorization. I believe the only reason the action is on hold right now is because of racism and anti-immigration.”
Although the programs are unavailable right now, people need to start preparing documents and saving money to apply. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States paid 11.64 billion dollars in state and local taxes. A study found that tax contributions would increase significantly under Obama’s executive actions and even more under comprehensive immigration reform granting all undocumented immigrants lawful permanent residence.
“DAPA will help us come out of the shadows and gain respect and dignity for our families,” said Maria Pereira of Hillside, and member of Make the Road New Jersey, in a recent press release. “DAPA means no more separation of families. It will end the nightmare of deportation for so many of our families, giving us the chance to live in peace. Today we say yes to DAPA, yes to our families.”
The programs were first introduced by President Obama in November of 2014. Just one month later, Texas and several other states filed a lawsuit against Obama’s action. It was determined by Judge Hanen in Texas to freeze the programs. In March of 2015, the amicus brief was filed to support immigration action. There will be a debate on April 18, about unfreezing these programs, and a final decision is anticipated to be made in June.
“It is well past time to fix our immigration system, and as the grandson of immigrants from Eastern Europe, I am proud to support President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen in a recent press release. “What better way to celebrate our American success story, than by paving the way for others to renew our country and live out their American dreams? We are a nation of immigrants, and this is what has made our country great. We must continue to honor this legacy.”
Other county officials agree that our country would benefit from these programs. They agree it’s time to address the issue of immigration and to implement a plan of action. Other cities in the democratic state of New Jersey that have signed onto the bill include Haledon, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, Plainfield, Princeton, Roselle, Union City, and Trenton.
“As the youngest Democratic Freeholder in the State of New Jersey, as an elected official representing a county that I consider to be a ‘melting pot’ of different ethnicities and as a son of two hard-working immigrants who came to this country for a brighter future as so many other immigrants also do, President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration is a personal issue for me that I very strongly support,” said Union County Freeholder Vice Chairman Sergio Granados in a recent press release. “Today’s immigrants are tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, scientists and professionals, and are major contributors to our economy and society. It’s well past time to fix the system, and it is a simple matter of humanity.”
The president’s executive actions will allow approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants to gain work authorization and contribute to the economy while providing for their families. Many people, including local officials and immigrant leaders, will fight to put Obama’s plan into action this year. Whatever the outcome, a decision must be made and hopefully it will be one that benefits the majority of Americans.