An Analysis of Political and Legal Immigration
The Minimum Redefined
|Salvador Carranza sees the recent U.S. Supreme
Court decision on immigration as the beginning
and not the end of the litigation process.
undocumented residents between the ages of 16-30,” Carranza said. “It also gives the opportunity to those who are either in the armed
forces or have gotten a degree or are currently enrolled for a degree to continue and when graduating, giving them a work permit. I think
this is huge on two accounts. The first is that we have a lot of very bright kids who have done everything right. They have gone to our
universities and are graduating more and more in areas where we need skilled workers, skilled people with the knowledge and training
to fill jobs that are actually out there and we can’t fill because there are not enough qualified people to fill them. These kids will now be
able to actually get into those jobs, kids who have gone into engineering, medicine, social work, nursing and on and on and on. We’ve
been wasting their talent and the investment that we have made in them. Obama’s ruling is not just an ability for them to now feel safe
— they will not be detained and have the risk that they might be deported — but also allows them to continue through our society like
anyone else. That is huge.”
Most political pundits have been predicting that the Latino electorate is one of the swing voting blocks whose voting percentages and
presidential preferences could play a huge role in determining the next president in November.
“Obviously the next election is huge,” Carranza said. “That is why you have seen that now a vast majority of Latinos in the country —
even though we have been a little disappointed with President Obama’s immigration policies; they are totally supporting President
Obama in this election. The latest polls show a 75/25 percent split for him. That is greater than he had in 2008. This is good news
because regardless of what Romney says, we don’t trust what he might do if he comes into office and gets pressure from his
constituency to stop this executive order.”
On many levels, Obama’s move has moved the political equation in his — and the Latino community’s — favor.
“This has put the Republicans on the spot and asks, ‘Where do you stand,’” Carranza emphasized. “Like Obama said and I keep saying
over and over, these are not someone else’s kids. These are our kids. And they either are going to be a good force in society or you are
going to force them to be a drag on society because there is no other choice. They aren’t going to go away. They are going to be here and
they are going to stay here. Hopefully this will force — especially if President Obama wins, which I have huge hopes that he will — the
next Congress to take on the Dream Act again because there is no other choice for them. They are going to have to do it.”
On another front, Carranza was greatly encouraged by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Arizona decision even though it only declared three out
of four parts of it unconstitutional.
“The Supreme Court ratified what President Obama’s legal team had been saying all along,” Carranza said. “States cannot supersede
federal law period. This means that states cannot create any laws that are different from current federal law. Otherwise they are
unconstitutional. All of these laws about not renting to people, not offering jobs don’t work. If federal law doesn’t state it, they cannot
pass laws that are contrary to what current federal law says. Current law says that businesses do their best, honest effort to determine
the status of individuals and that is what they are held to. This won’t change. What will change — and I am going to be very interested in
looking at this — are things like the Arizona law that actually banned students from even attending college. There are going to be
lawsuits against them now because that supersedes federal law. Federal districts have rules and there is nothing in immigration
federal law that bans people, regardless of status, from attending colleges. That is another issue that is going to be impacted.”
And even though the Supreme Court basically said that the states have the right to help enforce federal law — they can still inquire
about an individual’s legal status — it is uncertain what future detentions based on one’s status will accomplish in instances where one
is not a felon or has committed misdemeanors. They may end up detaining people at their own expense.
“I think there is going to be a lot more scrutiny because law enforcement agencies are now going to be on the spot,” Carranza said.
“Part of the things that the Supreme Court said further clarified — which I think was really good — that you cannot just detain someone
indefinitely when they have violated very minimal immigration laws like not having committed any crime. Remember, being in this
country without papers or with papers that have expired is a civil violation. It is a minor violation. It is not a felony. It is not
misdemeanor. It’s just a very basic civil violation and that hasn’t changed. The efforts of states to criminalize that are now out the
window. The federal law doesn’t criminalize it. States cannot criminalize it. That is very important for people to understand. I hope
obviously that ‘secure communities’ is still in force. Those states cannot create new laws that supersede federal law.”
With the Obama and Supreme Court decisions, Carranza feels that the political — and tactical — landscape has changed. Instead of
massively taking to the streets like the 2006 mass marches, the battle is going to switch to the ballot box and the courtroom.
“I think we have learned a lesson,” Carranza said. “The first and most important thing in a democracy is we have to vote. We have to
make our voices heard by going to the polls and showing that we have a voice. If we don’t show up, then we shouldn’t be complaining.
Second, there are enough of us who have the ability to go to the polls and make our opinions heard on behalf of those who don’t have a
voice. And it is our responsibility to do that. Third, I think the legal system, in this case, is the best avenue as well, to stop this kind of
policies. It has worked. We have, even in this case, had our legal challenges work. We have to continue doing that, using our
Constitution, using our legal system to make changes and to make our voice heard as well.”
In Carranza’s view, that impact could come as soon as November for now the Latino community feels that it has something to win or
lose in this election.
“I think the Supreme Court ruling affects the November election significantly,” Carranza said. “Obviously there are the poll numbers. A
lot of the states that could go either way have large Latino populations that are now overwhelmingly supporting President Obama. I
believe that a lot of the Republicans are pretty much going to give up hope in even being able to make a dent on that. There is not
By Jonathan Gramling
A sea change in American politics occurred during the past two weeks that
could perhaps have a generational impact on the federal — and state — election
process. With the stroke of a pen, President Barack Obama signed an executive
order that redefined how the Dept. of Homeland Security will deal with
undocumented individuals within the borders of the United States. And the U.S.
Supreme Court declared most of the Arizona immigration bill unconstitutional,
taking the teeth out of the most anti-immigrant legislation passed in recent
history. With the growth of the Latino population on the rise in the U.S. with the
vast majority of younger Latinos being U.S. citizens, these measures may
recognize the growing political clout of Latinos and raise the bar in terms of how
undocumented individuals are treated in the United States.
Salvador Carranza, co-chair of the Latino Education Council and a member of
LUChA, was very pleased by these recent developments. In some ways,
Carranza looks at Obama’s executive order as a limited DREAM Act.
“It lets the Dept. of Homeland Security know how they should handle