On Thursday, November 20th, President Obama announced a package of executive actions to provide temporary reprieve from deportation to a limited number of immigrants living in the country.  The ACLU of Idaho welcomes this good news as a step in the right direction in addressing the plight of immigrant families caught in a political fiasco and broken immigration system. The temporary relief is a significant advancement towards affirming the civil liberties of immigrants.  Immigrants that will qualify can now breathe a sigh of relief, as the threat of possible deportation is cast aside.

While we welcome the good news, we are concerned that more than 6 million immigrants remain under the threat of deportation. We are also deeply concerned of the increased militarization that will proliferate at the Southern border, dubbed the “Constitution Light Zone,” for abuses by border patrol on American Citizens as far north as several hundred miles into the mainland.  For now, we welcome the good news, but remain vigilant to ensure the rights of all persons are protected.

A memorable moment captured at a recent live community viewing of President Obama’s announcement came from a tearful immigrant mother:
I can breathe now. I can breathe now. I am free. I am finally free.

These sentiments express the fundamental idea that is rooted in our work at the ACLU; that all persons have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and equal protection under the law.  For immigrant community members this means fairness and due process under the law, equal protection and the right against discrimination.  While these rights have always been present, the simple fact that immigrant community members lived in the shadows of our society, also meant that these core rights were not equally enjoyed.
Undoubtedly more work remains to achieve full equality for all immigrant community members, but for now we accept the President’s executive action to provide reprieve from deportation to several million immigrants.

We ask our ACLU members and supporters to take action in the upcoming days and months to deliver a strong message to Congress that they must now pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. It’s long overdue.

Leo Morales