Supreme Court Decision Dashes Hopes For More Than 20,000 People In Idaho

Jun 28, 2016

Credit Neil R. / Flickr

In the last few days the U.S. Supreme Court has issued several major decisions. Perhaps the one that will have a direct impact on the most people in Idaho is last week’s split decision that effectively eliminates President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Those would have granted temporary legal status to people whose children are legal U.S. residents (known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans or DAPA) and to people who came to the country as children (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.)

A 2014 study by the Pew Research Center said Idaho had more than 20,000 people who would have benefited from Obama's actions. By percentage, that was a bigger share than any other state. That wasn’t because Idaho had a particularly high number of undocumented immigrants. Instead, it was because, among those that were in the state, there was a particularly high rate of people who had been in the U.S. for a long time.

Leo Morales, director of the ACLU of Idaho says he knows several young people in Idaho who came to the U.S. as children and can’t remember living anywhere else.

“[DACA] meant to them an opportunity at higher education, to attend the university. And that, you know has now faded away,” Morales says.

Morales says those thousands of undocumented people in Idaho “live in the shadows.”

“You’re living here but always with this constant fear that one day this may not be home anymore and you will be deported,” Morales says.

The court's decision means those immigrants won't gain legal status and, instead, will have to continue living in the shadows. Morales says the constant fear many undocumented immigrants live with is traumatic and can lead to mental health issues and other problems.

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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