The Supreme Court has taken something very powerful away from a few million people: hope. And some of those people live in the Rochester region, many of them working on local farms.
Last week, the court deadlocked on a legal challenge to an immigration directive from President Barack Obama. The executive order gave undocumented immigrants a chance to apply for work visas if their children were citizens or legal permanent residents of the US. Texas and 25 other states sued to block it, and because of the Supreme Court tie, a lower court decision to block the order stands.
But the decision means that some undocumented immigrants who raised their children in the Rochester region, and who built lives here, won’t be able to gain legal status through the program as they’d hoped, says John Ghertner, a longtime immigration-rights activist from Wayne County. Many are uncertain whether they’ll be able to stay in the country, he says.
“A lot of these parents had high hopes that it was going to change their lives and their children’s lives,” Ghertner says of the blocked program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.
The decision is causing anxiety and fear among local immigrant workers, regardless of their status. Among them: students who are in the country legally under a previous amnesty program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and whose status is not jeopardized by the Supreme Court decision, Ghertner says.
The ruling is one more blow against a group of people who already feel they are losing support and who have been repeatedly let down by immigration reform failures, he says.
“The people who are working on our farms, in our businesses, raising their children here, paying their taxes, are now getting kicked in the teeth,” Ghertner says.