What the Supreme Court’s immigration ruling means here at home

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About 60 people from Ventura and Santa Barbara County went to Immigrant Lobby Day in Sacramento. Photo: CAUSE (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

In a 4-4 decision last week, the Supreme Court blocked President Obama’s immigration plan.

Two years ago, Obama took executive action to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. That was challenged in court by Texas and about two dozen other states. This tie keeps Obama’s programs, known as DAPA and DACA, from going into effect.

What does all this mean for some 5 million undocumented immigrants, including those living here in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties?

Frank Rodriguez from the Latino advocacy group CAUSE says the decision perpetuates fear within these communities.

What are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)?

They are basically deportation relief and work authorization for an estimated 5 million people in the United States. The Supreme Court’s failure to rule on DACA and DAPA is devastating news for thousands of families here in the Central Coast, and millions across the country. It raises the stakes for our community to turn out in November to vote. It’s going to be important to fight against the anti-immigrant politicians who are trying to separate our families.

To be clear, in 2012 when DACA and DAPA first came out, people who got them are still eligible and able to renew. With this decision, new recipients can no longer apply.

How many people in Santa Barbara and Ventura County are affected by the decision?

In Santa Barbara County, there’s an estimated 39,000 undocumented immigrants. Ventura County has about 72,000.

How does this decision affect the agricultural community here?

CAUSE has been working with county supervisors on the Farmworkers Bill of Rights. To make this effort happen, we need people to speak up about the issues they’re facing in the fields in Santa Maria, Santa Paula, Oxnard, etc. However, if people can’t come out of the shadows, people can’t speak up.

An immigrant rights forum at Casa de la Raza in Santa Barbara. Photo: CAUSE (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

What rights do undocumented workers have?

Everybody who’s a worker has rights as workers in the United States. However, there’s a huge piece of empowerment that comes from being able to say one is a citizen. When we’re telling people they’re not a part of this society, it doesn’t allow them to get involved in the civic and political realm.

Could this empower farm owners to keep undocumented workers down and pay less in wages?

The ability for people to take advantage of others when they’re not able to speak is very true. We want people to be able to voice their concerns and problems at the workplace without the fear of being deported from the families they’ve raised here in Santa Barbara and Ventura.