Equality California Joins Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court to Restore Immigration Programs

Equality California has joined a diverse coalition of 326 immigration, civil rights, labor, and social service groups that filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Texas.  The brief urges the court to lift an injunction that blocks executive actions on immigration that President Obama announced in November 2014.

The Obama Administration’s expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the newer Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) initiatives was blocked by a federal district court in Texas following a lawsuit by 26 states.  The court’s order was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Late last year the federal government appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

In addition to Equality California, the coalition of immigration and civil rights, labor and service provider organizations submitting the brief includes the National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, the Service Employees International Union, the Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 319 other organizations.

“California’s LGBT community includes an estimated quarter-million undocumented immigrants, so any decision by the Supreme Court will have a profound impact on LGBT lives,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.  “These programs would help give millions of young adult immigrants — including thousands who are LGBT – and their parents access to healthcare and other public services they already help pay for, and allow them to participate more fully in the economic, civic, and social life of our communities.”

In the brief, the groups outline how families and communities, including LGBT immigrants, would benefit from the executive orders. “If the injunction is lifted, many families will be more secure, without the looming threat that loved ones will be deported at a moment’s notice,” it argues. “Many deserving individuals will also have access to better jobs and the ability to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities.”

Among those impacted by the injunction are people who immigrated to the United States as children – including thousands of LGBT people — and did not meet the age and arrival date rules under the original 2012 DACA program, but would qualify under the expanded program. These individuals continue contributing to their communities as they await relief from the courts.

One example cited in the brief is Juan Carlos, a 22-year-old gay man who came to the United States when he was 15 years old.  He reluctantly turned down admission offers to five colleges because, as an undocumented student, he did not qualify for in-state tuition and could not afford to pay the out-of-state tuition at the colleges that accepted him. Juan Carlos lives in constant fear of deportation.  As a gay man, his deportation to El Salvador could result in severe persecution or even death given El Salvador’s history of anti-gay violence and discrimination. In addition to alleviating this fear of deportation, deferred action would allow Juan Carlos to pursue his dreams of attending college and eventually becoming an architect.