Supreme Court to Hear Lawsuit Against Obama Deportation Protection Orders

National
Posted By Monica Harvin on January 20, 2016 at 2:41 pm
Supreme Court to Hear Lawsuit Against Obama Deportation Protection Orders
U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC

The Supreme Court has decided to grant review of a lawsuit brought by 26 states and led by Texas, challenging executive orders on immigration by the Obama administration. For higher education, the Supreme Court’s decision could have important implications, spanning from social and legal questions for undocumented students and mixed-status families to economic implications for state income to fund higher education.

The programs in question would expand the number of people eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), announced by the President on November 20, 2014. Because of the ongoing lawsuit, these programs are not in effect and wait on standby, as the court decides their fate.

The status of the students, known as DREAMERs, who applied under the first DACA order is not in question, for now. But the challenge to DACA’s expansion pulls into question the future of many others, many of them college students. What’s more, the implications for the families of students across the nation are immense, as keeping DAPA would ensure that the parents of American citizens and lawful permanent residents are not deported.

Schools, cities and states move to include undocumented students

In the absence of federal and state follow-through on the President’s orders, many schools, cities, and states have taken independent action to include undocumented students. States like California have gone beyond DACA, which only guarantees students will not be deported, by passing its own Dream Act and offering access to state financial aid for undocumented students. Nineteen states have enacted Dream Act bills that grant in-state tuition to undocumented students, but in states like New York with a significant immigrant population, Dream Act legislation has not passed.

Sanctuary cities and counties are upholding the president’s orders and refuse to cooperate with federal agents that want to deport undocumented residents. In New York City and Los Angeles plans are underway to issue city IDs to undocumented residents, in general, to allow these individuals to openly participate in their communities.

In addition, late last year, the Department of Education released a Resource Guide for supporting undocumented students attending the nation’s schools, colleges and universities. In New Jersey, Rutgers University holds a fair to provide the undocumented community and students with the information they to need to know about going to college. And, Berkeley has a complete counseling and support program on its campus for undocumented students.

The Supreme Court’s decision will either serve to reinforce independent actions like these or, potentially, undo them by giving way to questions on the legality of any of these measures.

Keeping DAPA and DACA could mean billions in tax revenue for states

There are also important economic implications of the court’s decision. From the perspective of the states suing, the belief is that they’ll sustain significant costs for having to include undocumented residents, whether it’s offering temporary drivers’ licenses or granting in-state tuition rates. However, new research out of the UCLA North American Integration and Development Center (NAID) shows that DAPA and DACA could actually increase state revenue and tax generation for the states suing. This comes at a time when state budgets for higher education are being slashed across the country.

The NAID report for Texas says, “743,000 undocumented immigrants would be eligible for DACA or DAPA… Legalizing the work these immigrants do would formalize the $39.2 billion that they contribute to the GDP. The impact of DACA and DAPA on wage growth in Texas would generate more than $1.7 billion in new taxes (personal, sales and business) and 61,000 jobs (including direct, indirect and induced employment).”

Other states involved in the lawsuit would benefit similarly. In Florida, “The wage growth of undocumented DACA and DAPA beneficiaries in Florida would generate more than $607.9 million in total new tax revenue.” In North Carolina, it would mean more than $372 million in total new tax revenue, and for Arizona, more than $326.8 million in total new tax revenue. On average, states spend the largest shares of their tax revenue on education so this added income could represent a boon to higher education.

What it could mean for families and the social fabric

Were the court not to uphold DAPA and expanded DACA, it could increase the likelihood of family separation in mixed-status families. Family separation of this kind is linked to psychological, educational, social and economic difficulties, which may include “interruptions in schooling because parents fear sending their children to school, short and long-term emotional trauma for separated children, and economic hardship due to the detention of the family breadwinner,” reports the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an organization focusing on children at-risk. Such concerns for young people and their families are not unwarranted. In Maryland, schools are already seeing lower attendance rates, as deportation fears rise for many students and their families.

Not only the fate of millions of undocumented people living in the U.S. will be determined by the Supreme Court’s decision. The decision to uphold or toss out the President’s executive orders for DAPA and expanding DACA will impact the country, states and cities economically and with implications for higher education. This is added to the impact that the decision will have on local schools and universities’ efforts at including undocumented students. And, the impact to families will be felt throughout local communities and the social fabric of the country as a whole.

Monica Harvin
Monica is a GoodCall contributing editor, covering personal finance and education. She's also GoodCall's diversity expert, with a master's degree in Latin American studies from UCLA and bachelor's degree in history from the University of Florida.

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