Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Tirso Moreno, above.
Olivia Flores' three children have not seen their father in six years.
Her husband was deported back to Mexico, leaving her as the sole breadwinner of the family. As an undocumented person, she lives caged, she says, only going from home to work. She can't drive because she's prohibited from getting a license, so her children feel trapped as well.
Almost two years ago, she thought her luck had changed when President Obama announced two executive orders: Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, known as DAPA, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. The programs would have shielded undocumented parents of citizens or legal residents and childhood arrivals from deportation and allowed them to work. The policy would have affected 5 million of the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented residents.
Texas and 25 other states, including Florida, sued the Obama administration, accusing the president of "ignoring federal procedures for changing rules and of abusing the power of his office by sidestepping Congress," according to The New York Times
. A federal district court and appeals court sided with the states, and on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on the case, meaning the programs will continue being blocked.
Florida immigrant and Latino groups held a press conference at the Farmworker Association of Florida office in Apopka where Flores and other undocumented mothers who qualified for DAPA said they were heartbroken over the decision, but prepared to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. Flores says she's already fought this issue for 18 years and she can do 18 more.
"As human beings, we deserve more," she says. "They say were are the people in the shadows. No. From here on out, I am not going to live in the shadows anymore."
Tirso Moreno, general coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida, says DAPA and DACA were temporary measures that could have been taken away from the immigrant community even if they were approved. The organizations want an immigration plan that will once and for all, define them and allow undocumented people to work, drive and study. Soraya Marquez, state coordinator for Mi Familia Vota, a group which aims to register Latinos to vote, says four Supreme Court justices buried the hopes of millions of people Thursday, but this has to strengthen the movement. The part of the Latino community who can vote needs to step up for others who can't, she says.
"We have to change Congress because there's no other way," Marquez says in an impassioned speech. "People who become U.S. citizens need to understand they need to vote. The rights of being a citizen means you have to be voice for all the people here."