Local Opinion: SCOTUS Must Delay DACA Decision
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Local Opinion: SCOTUS Must Delay DACA Decision

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

One of the most crucial lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic has been how interdependent all humans are on each other. Our individual health, well-being and success is dependent on society working as one across the globe. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated how fragile our culture is when it comes to matters of health and well-being. Many have been using the phrase “we are all in this together” as a rallying cry. But, are we really in this struggle together?

Amid a battle against an invisible enemy, the Trump administration is close to creating a man-made catastrophe that could be easily avoided. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by the end of June, and if the court finds that DACA should end, that decision would have a devastating impact on our nation’s economy and health-care system.

Nearly 800,000 individuals in the United States have DACA and almost 30,000 are health-care workers, including health aides, health-care support workers, technologists, technicians and critical nurses and doctors. Many of these DACA recipients are in the trenches fighting against COVID-19 and courageously serving in the front lines of our hospitals, especially in underserved areas of the country. If the Supreme Court determines that DACA should be rescinded, the already soaring unemployment rate will unnecessarily increase exponentially.

The absurdity of this DACA debacle is encapsulated in our clients’ personal stories. One client of mine, Victor, came to the United States in 1990 when he was 4 years old. He has been a productive member of society. Unfortunately, due to a traffic violation in September 2006, he was placed in removal proceedings. The deportation case was closed by ICE in 2012 so that he could receive DACA. He has taken full advantage of DACA and works full-time. This past week he tragically received a notice from the Board of Immigration Appeals that the case was reinstated by the request of ICE and that he now has a final order of deportation. He has DACA valid through 2021, but the SCOTUS decision will ultimately determine his fate.

What can SCOTUS do about this? Delay. Hold off on a decision until the fall or later while our country, and the world, attempts to sort out the most pressing health crisis we have seen in our lifetime. Delaying a decision due to a pandemic would not be unprecedented and would be completely within the court’s purview. SCOTUS has already postponed some scheduled oral arguments until the fall term. In 1918, during the Spanish flu epidemic, the court postponed arguments. In 1793 and 1798 the court’s calendar was shortened due to yellow fever. This alternative is currently being considered by the court.

While it feels like the nation has become increasingly divided on political issues, it has been difficult times when we have all come together. This pandemic is an opportunity to help one another. We must look beyond our nationalities or immigration status and work together as a human race. The uncertainty of the fate of DACA has already created exceptional mental and emotional hardships on those currently in the program.

Division is not going to help solve a national emergency. Let’s unite during this time and make sure we protect as many people as possible. In order to do so, the Supreme Court must hold off on a DACA decision until a later date.

United we stand. Divided we fall.

Maurice “Mo” Goldman is an immigration attorney in Tucson and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

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