One of my most vivid memories in recent years is of the evening of November 20th, 2014, when I was in an overcrowded South Philly eatery watching television. President Barack Obama was on the air, announcing that he was taking executive action to offer temporary deportation relief to an estimated 4 million undocumented people via programs that helped undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (known was “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans,” or DAPA) as well as undocumented people who arrived in the country before age 16 (extended “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or DACA+).
Inside Taquitos de Puebla on 9th Street, the atmosphere was electric with hope. Those who qualified would be able to get out of a shadow economy that relies on their labor without according them any protections, and conduct their daily lives without the soul-crushing fear that at any moment agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could swoop down to deport them.
Almost immediately, the president’s executive actions were challenged legally, and for two years those people with whom I had celebrated that November night carefully banked their hopes and waited as the legal case wound its way through the lower courts to the Supreme Court.