Local advocates decry ruling

By Maureen Smith
GREENWOOD – Amelia McGowan, head of Catholic Charities’ Migrant Support Center, was disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to put a halt on new applications for immigrants seeking work permits and protection from deportation.
“Hopefully this is just a temporary setback,” said McGowan. She and her staff were so hopeful they would get a favorable decision, they hosted a workshop for parish leaders in Greenwood Saturday, June 18, to train them on the issue.
The Migrant Support Center partnered with Texas-based advocacy organization “United We Dream” to provide the free, eight-hour training. Speakers Carolina Ramirez and Adonias Arevalo presented an overview of DACA/DAPA, “Know Your Rights” training, screening for immigration remedies, understanding and combatting the unauthorized practice of law, and the importance of client engagements/retainers. United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation. The network, made up of more than 100,000 immigrant youth and allies and 55 affiliate organizations in 26 states, advocates for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status.
Forty-two people from Clarksdale, Greenville, Greenwood, Jackson, Vicksburg and members of the Redemptorist community serving in the Delta attended the workshop. They included pastors, community leaders and catechists. “One of the problems we are having is that many people don’t even know or understand their rights,” said Nancy Sanchez, a staff member at the Migrant Support Center. She and McGowan said despite the Supreme Court ruling the center hopes to continue to offer training on immigration rights.
“We will keep working, keep collaborating. It is really important to build these networks and build and strengthen our partnerships,” said McGowan. Her office has been working for several years to educate not only the immigrant community, but also collaborate with law enforcement and the business community to make sure all the communities understand the complex issues involved. In an earlier interview, she explained that when immigrants are scared to report crimes or seek help, the whole community suffers.
Many immigrants in Mississippi live under constant threat of removal from the United States. The president’s proposed expanded Deferred Action program (otherwise known as “Expanded DACA” and “DAPA”) could have provided relief to many undocumented Mississippians by allowing them to obtain work permits and receive limited protection from deportation.
On June 24, the nation’s high court upheld an earlier ruling that determined President Obama did not have the constitutional authority to enact DAPA and expanded-DACA, two executive actions designed to provide temporary deportation relief and work permits for four million undocumented immigrants.
Immigrants granted protection in 2012 are not impacted by this ruling.