Politics

Enid Trucious-Haynes will spend her Friday in a Boone County jail.

The University of Louisville law professor will educate incarcerated immigrants facing deportation of their rights under federal immigration law.

“Many of [them] have U.S. citizen children and are just trying to make a life for themselves and their families,” she said.

Trucious-Haynes makes the trip nearly every month. This month’s visit will come just a day after the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked in a 4-4 decision effectively blocking President Barack Obama’s plan to expand a deportation deferment program.

The program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, allowed undocumented parents of citizens or lawful permanent residents to apply for status allowing them to remain in the country and work legally. It was enacted by executive action in 2014.

Trucious-Haynes said Obama’s program gave nearly five million people a sense of security that they could remain in the U.S. without fear of deportation. She said the court’s decision has a “profound impact” on people here and across the country, and leaves many in limbo, especially mixed-status families.

“Millions of people are disappointed today,” she said.

Edgardo Mansilla echoed that sentiment.

Mansilla is the executive director of the Americana Community Center, which provides an array of support services for refugees and immigrants entering Louisville. He said the court’s decision is rooted in politics, not people. Mansilla said he expects the decision to lead to fear for families on the brink of being pulled apart by deportation.

“It’s going to be very tense, very scary,” he said.

Mansilla said hundreds of Louisville families have already been split by deportation, and Thursday’s ruling will likely lead to more. He also said the court’s deadlock will be cause for increased stereotypes and aggression against all immigrants, not just those coming from Central and South American countries.

A large number of undocumented residents in the area are from Latin American countries, he said, but many come from India, China, Korea, Ireland, Israel and Canada.

“It’s a number of countries, not just one,” he said.

The court’s decision did not come as a surprise to Mansilla. Little progress has been made on immigration reform in Congress during the past decade, he said, despite some leaders persistently calling for change.

“It’s not working,” he said. “The immigration law needs to be thrown away, and we need to start from scratch.”

Trucious-Haynes said she expects the Supreme Court to revisit the issue once a currently vacant seat on the court is filled.

“This issue is not over,” she said.

In an address following the ruling, Obama said the future of immigration reform in the country is now up to voters.

“We’re going to have to decide whether we’re a people who accept the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms, or whether we actually value families and keep them together for the sake of all of our communities,” he said, according to a report from NPR.

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell said he is pleased with the ruling.

“This ruling further underscores the importance of a president who acknowledges and respects the separation of powers as well as a Supreme Court that defends these constitutional principles,” McConnell said in a statement.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.