East County News Service
Photo: Iraqi Chaldeans rallied in El Cajon in 2014 pleading for the U.S. to help to save Christians from ISIS.
June 23, 2016 (San Diego) — Fear rippled through the community here, as word of Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court vote reached San Diego, home to the nation’s largest concentration of Iraqi Christians.
“Today’s announcement is alarming for immigrant families everywhere, but it is particularly frightening for Chaldeans,” said Mark Arabo, spokesperson for the Western U.S. Chaldean Catholic Diocese and the Minority Humanitarian Foundation, a San Diego organization that has rescued over 400 Iraqi Christians fleeing genocide in the Middle East and seeks to help another 700,000 victimized by religious persecution.
“People who came here to escape religious persecution and extermination at the hands of ISIS are now being told they have to go back. They’re terrified.” Arabo said.
The Supreme Court’s four-to-four split vote is a stunning setback for San Diego’s Chaldean community and the effort to rescue Iraqi Christians from terrorism in the Middle East, Arabo added. More than 400 Chaldeans assisted in escaping the embattled region are now seeking asylum in the U.S.
The Supreme Court case, United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, concerned an executive action by the president to allow unauthorized immigrants who are the parents of citizens or of lawful permanent residents to apply for residency and work permits. The program was called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.
President Obama has indicated his administration will not make deportations a priority despite the court ruling, however the next president's actions will be crucial for the future of immigrants here.
Hillary Clinton has called the high court's ruling "unacceptable" and pledged to introduce immigration reform immediately if elected to help prevent mass deportations of law-abiding immigrants and their families. Donald Trump has praised the Supreme Court decisoin, however, and voiced support for deportations.
The next president will also appoint a justice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court which would break the deadlock and could result in the new administration asking for the case to be reheard by the full court--sealing the fate for millions of immigrants whose lives are now in peril if they are sent back to places they fled due to war, persecution, or other life threatening situations.