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Immigrants Rally in Arizona While Court Debates Obama Plan

Immigrant-rights groups march in front of the White House in 2013 asking the president to halt deportations and keep families together. (Coast-to-Coast/iStock)
Immigrant-rights groups march in front of the White House in 2013 asking the president to halt deportations and keep families together. (Coast-to-Coast/iStock)
April 19, 2016

PHOENIX - Arizona immigrant groups say they will continue to push for the rights granted under President Obama's executive order for undocumented immigrants.

The U.S. Supreme Court took up the issue this week, hearing oral arguments over the president's plan that would, among other things, shield about 5 million immigrants from deportation.

Alejandra Gómez, co-executive director of Living United for Change in Arizona, says a coalition of immigrant rights groups is closely watching where the court comes down on the issue.

"This is hope for us that the oral arguments will be made," says Gómez. And the message really is to the Supreme Court that we really need their leadership in this moment. There's a lot of families, a lot of people in the community that are waiting to give back, contribute."

The president issued the order in late 2014, curbing some deportations and granting work permits and drivers licenses for immigrants that meet certain criteria.

However, in early 2015, it received a legal challenge by a coalition of 26 states, including Arizona, and the program was put on hold by a lower court.

Gómez says there are about 300,000 undocumented immigrants in Arizona, about half of which would benefit from the Obama plan.

She says the history of her group's fight over immigrant rights in Arizona leads her to believe that regardless of how the court decides, they will still face push back from those who oppose them.

"We can expect things like that," Gómez says. "And I think from the state and other folks that are anti- this executive order. But what you can also expect from the community and from organizations is that we will fight it again."

For the Supreme Court to uphold Obama's executive order, a conservative justice would have to side with the court's four liberal justices.

A 4-4 tie along party lines would keep the lower court ban in place. A decision will be announced by the end of the court's term in June.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ