OPINION

Dolores Huerta: I'm deeply saddened that 4 justices decided to play politics with immigration

DORAL, FL - MAY 22:  Protesters make themselves heard in front of Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) office on May 22, 2013 in Doral, Florida.  The protesters are asking Rubio to stop opposing the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families in the Senate?s comprehensive immigration reform bill.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

DORAL, FL - MAY 22: Protesters make themselves heard in front of Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) office on May 22, 2013 in Doral, Florida. The protesters are asking Rubio to stop opposing the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families in the Senate?s comprehensive immigration reform bill. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)  (2013 Getty Images)

Last week, the Supreme Court issued a devastating decision that blocked DAPA and expanded DACA. I'm deeply saddened that four Supreme Court justices decided to play politics with people’s lives instead of doing the right thing and upholding President Obama's actions that would have protected millions of people in this country from deportation.

Progress for our communities does not come easily. But we do have the power through our vote to determine who represents us in Congress, who will appoint the next Supreme Court justices, and who will direct immigration policy. 

- Dolores Huerta

This case goes far beyond the four justices who decided against us; Republicans at every level fought against President Obama’s actions and, for years, any meaningful immigration reform. 

First, the case came before the Supreme Court because Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott la — along with Republican governors and attorneys general in 26 states — filed a case against DACA+ and DAPA in the district court where anti-immigrant, Republican-appointed Judge Andrew Hanen presides. It was Hanen whose ruling originally blocked the president's actions, and because the Supreme Court tied four-four in their decision last week, it's his decision that stands. 

The Supreme Court deadlocked because there are currently only eight of the nine justices required for the Supreme Court to function properly. Former Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February, leaving the seat for President Obama to fill. However, Senate Republicans are engaging in unprecedented obstruction, refusing to hold hearings or schedule a vote on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. Though Garland is one of the most qualified nominees to the Supreme Court the Senate has ever seen, Republicans continue to refuse to do their job, instead holding open the seat for Donald Trump to fill.  

Beyond their blockade of the Supreme Court vacancy, Republicans have fought against the DACA+ and DACA executive actions from the beginning. Forty-three Republican Senators, including former supporters of immigration reform like Sen. John McCain and Sen. Marco Rubio, filed an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit. House Republicans, for their part, submitted a brief arguing against the implementation of DACA+ and DAPA programs. Two hundred twenty-five Democratic Senators and members of the House filed a brief opposing the Republican lawsuit. And before the case even went to the Supreme Court, House and Senate Republicans tried time and time again to stop Obama’s executive actions.

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Republican opposition to immigrant communities doesn’t end there. Republicans in Congress have consistently blocked common sense solutions to update our immigration policies.

In 2013, the Senate passed S.744, a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship. All 52 Democrats in the Senate supported the bill, along with 14 Republicans. Every vote against the bill came from Republicans. 

In the House of Representatives, despite the fact that House Democrats assembled enough support to move S.744  forward, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner refused to schedule a vote on that bill or any other immigration reform legislation. 

Since then, House and Senate Republicans have used their time in power to push more anti-immigrant bills, the latest being a vote to require the Library of Congress to use the term "illegal alien" to refer to undocumented immigrants in our country. 

As we know all too well, especially given last week's decision, progress for our communities does not come easily. But we do have the power through our vote to determine who represents us in Congress, who will appoint the next Supreme Court justices, and who will direct immigration policy. 

At every step of the way, Republicans in Congress have blocked progress on immigration, instead supporting a mass deportation agenda through their votes and the judges they appoint and support. While presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said he'll create a "deportation force" for the 11 million undocumented people in our country, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton supports keeping families together and has pledged to introduce comprehensive immigration reform during the first 100 days of her presidency. 

We can't afford for Trump to appoint the next Supreme Court justice, and we need to elect a pro-immigrant House and Senate to support immigration reform.

Make no mistake: aided by right wing judges, Republican governors, attorneys general, and members of Congress bear responsibility for last week's horrific decision. However, we can and will make our voices heard by voting in November against Donald Trump and the anti-immigrant Republicans in Congress. 

We will not back those who support mass deportation and the separation of families. We can ensure that these anti-immigrant politicians lose their elections through the power of our voices, expressed through our votes.

Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta is the co-founder of the United Farm Workers, president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and board member of People For the American Way.

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