KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Immigrant families demonstrated on the front steps of the Kalamazoo County Courthouse Thursday ahead of a key federal court hearing scheduled for Friday in New Orleans.
21 states are challenging President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order that keeps certain undocumented immigrant parents from being deported, affecting parents who have been in the U.S. for five years or more and whose children are U.S. citizens.
The lawsuit is set to be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. It would put the order, called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, on hold, impacting millions of families.
Immigrant demonstrators and immigration advocates protested repeal President Obama’s 2014 order, which expanded temporary deportation relief.
“The idea that we can divide families across borders, literally building fences to keep us apart when people are just advocating to keep us together, is just absurd,” said State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo).
Western Michigan University students Nayeli Sanchez and Jorge Cortez called on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to stop support of what they called ‘an anti-immigration lawsuit.’
Immigrant demonstrators said they live in fear and worry that their families will be targeted next for deportation.
“I cannot fathom living without my mother for day or month or any number of years,” said Sanchez.
Cortez is a first generation immigrant who knows the appeals court hearing will affect millions of immigrant families.
“People who think the struggle and fight for equality is over; the struggle is not over,” said Cortez.
“They’re threatened to be separated from their parents, potentially their brothers and sisters,” said Rep. Hoadley. “They’re running the risk of being deported to a place that they have no familiarity with or connection.”
The deferred action on deportation is on hold pending a ruling from the court. Until then, demonstrators say they’ll keep fighting for immigration reform.