Immigrants and their advocates gathered at a Catholic church today in southwest Detroit to support President Barack Obama’s order to reduce deportations of undocumented immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents
Last year, Obama announced an order that would allow many undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens to stay in the U.S.
That order was challenged in court by a number of state attorney generals, including Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who filed lawsuits. A judge temporarily blocked Obama’s order in February, and the case is being heard today by a federal appeals court in Texas.
Holding up signs that read “Stop Separating Families,” members of the advocacy group Michigan United and other groups gathered at St. Hedwig Catholic Church to oppose the attorney generals who filed the lawsuit.
“We don’t want a generation growing up without their parents,” said Detroit attorney Carrie Pastor, who often handles immigration cases.
Theresa Tran, executive director of Asian Pacific Islander Americans Vote Michigan, said that Obama’s order will bring “much needed relief” to immigrant parents. She said the lawsuit by the attorney generals was frivolous.
Schuette and others who filed the lawsuits have said that Obama’s order was unconstitutional.
Rosalia, an undocumented immigrant in Detroit, spoke at today’s news conference. She didn’t give her last name out of fear of being deported.
She said that she and her husband and one child came to the U.S. illegally in 1999 from Mexico. Last year, her husband was deported, leaving her to take care of four children, three of whom are U.S. citizens. One of them is allowed to be in the U.S. under a program known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) that allows some children of undocumented children to stay legally in the U.S. Obama’s order also would raise the age limit for those who apply for DACA.
Rosalia is fearful she could be deported at any time. She would have qualified to apply for legal status under Obama’s order, but that was blocked by a judge.
“What will happen to my children if I’m deported?” she said today.
She said she’s afraid to seek help for one of her children who has autism out of fear of being reported to authorities.
“I need to be able to get out of my house without being afraid,” she said. “My biggest fear is being torn away from my children, who were born here and are U.S. citizens.”
Obama’s order, she said, “would end the stress of knowing that a traffic stop on the way to the grocery store could tear our family apart.”
Cesar Ochoa, a radio host at La Mejor station (WHPR-FM, 88.1) in Detroit, said he’s getting an increased number of calls from listeners with family members being arrested and deported because of their immigration status.