January 23, 2016
What will 2016 bring? Will refugee families--whether from Syria or Honduras--find safe refuge and welcome in Tennessee? Could undocumented students in the Class of 2016 be the first to graduate with access to in-state tuition? Will the Supreme Court finally deliver justice to the 50,000 Tennesseans who have been waiting for relief?
Immigrant families rung in the new year with the announcement that ICE would be conducting raids across the country, specifically looking for Central American families to deport back to the violent communities they had fled. Our hotline began ringing off the hook. We received calls asking if it was safe for people to leave their homes. Mothers were asking if they should keep their children home from school that week. The unthinkable decision to conduct home raids in search of refugee families has cast a shadow of fear across Tennessee as ICE agents terrorize communities. We've launched an ambitious campaign to equip our members across the state with tools to know their rights and defend their communities and will work with our partners across the country to demand an end to the raids.
This week, the Supreme Court announced that it would take up the case of Texas v. United States--the lawsuit against the President's 2014 executive actions that was brought by 26 states, including Tennessee. Finally, immigrant families will have their day in court! If the court rules in our favor, 50,000 Tennesseans will have the opportunity to apply for deportation relief and a work permit. The Court is expected to hear oral arguments in April and issue their decision on the case in June.
And last week, the Tennessee General Assembly reconvened for the 2016 legislative session. This Thursday was the deadline for legislators to file their bills for the year and we're still poring over all of the pieces of legislation that have been filed. Spoiler alert: some politicians have bet that targeting refugees, Muslims, immigrant workers and students will help get them re-elected this summer. Keep your eyes out for next week's policy update where we'll give a full report on of what's at stake for immigrant families in the 2016 session, including the opportunity to pass the tuition equality bill that failed by just one vote last year.
We're looking forward to a powerful 2016 where we'll work together to stop deportations and keep families together--with a victory at the Supreme Court and an end to the raids--and to build a Tennessee where all people are free to live, learn, work, and worship.