In the very early morning hours on April 18th, TIRRC members from Nashville and Memphis met at our offices at Casa Azafran. The group piled into two large vans and headed to Knoxville, where a few more TIRRC members piled in the van and headed to Washington, D.C.
More than 30 TIRRC members took that long drive to D.C. to join thousands of people from across the immigrant rights movement in front of the Supreme Court as the justices heard oral arguments in the Texas v. United States case -- the lawsuit against DACA+ and DAPA.
This trip marked an important moment for our movement when immigrant families finally got their day in court and during one of the last steps in what has been a lengthy legal battle. The deportation relief programs (DACA+ and DAPA) that were announced in November 2014 have been on hold since Texas, Tennessee, and 24 other states filed a lawsuit against the Obama adminstration.
Since the programs were enjoined in February 2015, the 5 million undocumented immigrants in the US that are estimated to qualify have been in legal limbo, their families continue to live in fear and uncertainty, and their communities have not been able to benefit from the tremendous social and economic contributions eligible immigrants could make if the programs were implemented and they were able to apply for deportation relief and a work permit. An estimated 38,000 Tennesseans could apply today if the programs were available.
TIRRC members were part of the powerful national organizing to push the Obama administration to create the deferred action programs and our members have been leading the campaigns to defend DACA and DAPA. After participating in actions in Tennessee and outside the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, TIRRC members joined an estimated 4,000 community leaders of the immigrant rights movement from across the country outside the Court.
One of TIRRC's youth leaders, America, addressed the rally on the main stage at the event, and she fired up the thousands present with "I'm here because I'm tired of fearing my mom will be deported!" Similarly, Marta, a TIRRC women's committee leader who is DAPA-eligible, gave media interviews, telling people that fear is no longer an option. Along with Marta and America, the thousands marched around the Supreme Court chanting Si se puede! with signs that read "Keep Families Together" and "I am an American."
The Court is expected to issue its ruling on the case in June. In the meantime, we've been getting ready to stand up a rapid response plan and implementation infrastructure to ensure the largest number of people are able to apply if the programs go into effect. We're also scaling up our know your rights work and deportation defense campaigns to protect those not covered by DACA+/DAPA and to engage naturalized citizens in the 2016 elections to ensure the next President will preserve DACA and DAPA and take further executive action to protect more people.
To see more images from the April mobilization, check out our photo gallery or search #FightForFamilies on social media. TIRRC will post information about Executive Action as soon as the Supreme Court announces their verdict, so check our blog and social media for updates.