Legalization for All (L4A) Statement on President Obama’s Deferred Action
November 20, 2014
The Legalization for All (L4A) network welcomes President Obama expansion of deferred action as a positive step. His action, which will offer protection from deportation am ability to work legally to about four million undocumented who are parents of U.S. citizen or legal resident children. In addition Obama will expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program and will end the so-called “Secure Communities” program that tried to make local police enforcers for the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE.
Obama’s action is the fruit of the struggle by immigrant rights forces for more than a year. In September of 2013, Legalization for All was among the first immigrant rights groups to raise the demand that President Obama expand his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. L4A raised this demand because the House of Representatives Republican leadership made it clear that they were not going to take up any votes on immigration reform. Their decision came despite intense lobbying by immigrant rights forces, including L4A, over the summer. The House Republican leadership not only refused to consider the Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill passed in June of 2013, but would not even vote on Republican bills such as the so-called SAFE act that would have cancelled DACA, expanded on Arizona’s 1087 law to further criminalize the undocumented, and authorize the indefinite detention of the undocumented.
Then in a last straw, the House of Representatives Comprehensive Immigration Reform effort collapsed as most of the Republican members of the so-called “Group of Seven” withdrew from the effort on Friday, September 20th, 2013. Following this Legalization for All came out with a call for Obama to expand Deferred Action to all the undocumented. Many other immigrant rights forces also joined the campaign for Deferred Action, which along with its twin demand to stop the deportations. Two important steps were taken by United We Dream, which launched their “We Can’t Wait” campaign in March of 2014, and the letter sent by the National Immigrant Law Center in April signed by more than 60 immigrant rights, community, religious and labor organizations.
While Obama’s expanded Deferred Action is a positive step, it still leaves the majority of undocumented targets of deportations. In particular, Obama’s order will not protect the parents of the Dreamers who came as children, unless the parents also have citizen or legal resident children. Legalization 4 All will continue to support the Dreamers and their parents, including organization such as Dreamers Moms in their struggle to win Deferred Action.
With the total number of deportations closing in on two and a half million under Obama, the struggle against deportations needs to continue on both a national and local level. Legalization for All is committed to participating in this campaign with other national organizations such as PUENTE and local groups like the Minneapolis-Saint Paul MIRAC (Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee).
We are committed to continuing the struggle for Deferred Action For All, so that the millions of undocumented, most of whom have been living and working in this country for many years, can also get relief from the threat of deportations. We also support efforts of groups like the National Immigrant Youth Alliance to bring deportees back to the United States.
While welcoming Obama’s action to expand Deferred Action as a step forward, Legalization for All opposes his action to even further militarize the border. This part of his executive order will only increase deaths among those trying to cross the border and does nothing to address the real reasons that people come: to flee the poverty and violence caused by U.S. economic and military interventions in Mexico and Central America.
State and local campaigns to expand the rights of the undocumented will continue to be an important area of struggle. For example, in the last two years the number of states granting drivers licenses to the undocumented has gone from three to ten. Local organization such as RAICES in Florida and other that are fighting for drivers licenses, Youth Empowered in Struggle (YES) fighting in Wisconsin along with others for in-state tuition for undocumented college students, will be waging important fights to expand the rights of the undocumented at the state and local levels. This fight will be especially intense in many so-called Red States where Republican will try to obstruct the expanded Deferred Action program by trying to deny drivers licenses to those getting Deferred Action.
Republicans are now trying to blame Obama and Deferred Action for their lack of action. But in the last four years that the Republicans have controlled the House of Representatives, they HAVE NOT BROUGHT ONE SINGLE IMMIGRATION BILL TO A VOTE BY THE ENTIRE HOUSE. It is the struggle of the people, not politicians, who continue the fight to legalize the undocumented.
Continue the fight for Drivers Licenses and Tuition Equity for Deferred Action and All Undocumented!Expand Deferred Action to Cover Parents of Dreamers and All the Undocumented!
Fight for Legalization for All!