By Clarissa Alvarez
Clarissa Alvarez is a sophomore at The George Washington University studying political science and economics.
The United States v. Texas case, brought into dispute on April 18, 2016, presented to President Obama what was very likely his final opportunity to pass the DACA/DAPA program before the end of his term in January 2017.  The latter immigration plan originally proposed by Obama in 2014 advocated for immigration reform and would guarantee deferred action to nearly 4.4 million immigrants. What ultimately hindered Obama from passing a comprehensive immigration reform plan was a 4-4 split decision by the Supreme Court.  Had the Supreme Court voted in favor of United States and President Obama, over millions of immigrants under the DACA/DAPA program would have been granted deportation relief, a work permit, a social security number, a driver’s license (except in Nebraska), and a stable pathway to citizenship.  Students under the DACA/DAPA program might have even had the possibility of attaining in-state tuition and benefits. The program demonstrated a conceivable solution to an issue that pleads for amendment. However, a deadlocked decision and the undeniable truth that Obama’s presidency will soon come to an end will leave America’s next president to deal with a problem that cannot afford to be ignored any longer. Any subsequent changes to the immigration policy will be left in the hands of either Donald Trump, who firmly vows to reverse Obama’s DACA/DAPA program and deport all illegal immigrants, or Hillary Clinton, who promises to pursue even greater strides than Obama has on immigration reform. 
The decision was a huge blow for the Obama administration, not to mention the 4.4 million DACA/DAPA protected immigrants. Many Republicans, however, were relieved to see the United States v. Texas case result as a deadlock. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stated, “This is a win for the constitution, it’s a win for Congress.”  It was a win for Republicans who accused Obama of transcending his executive power rights as well as violating the Constitution. People of all political affiliations and no affiliation are frustrated with an American government that appears to show trifling efforts to collaboratively agree on a comprehensive immigration reform plan. Many insist that Congress should set aside partisan differences and come to terms with present immigration reform proposals. Others argue that Obama should not be allowed overstep his executive powers. Fingers are pointed at the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, and even immigrants themselves. The failure to put forth full-scale immigration reform is quick to be acknowledged, but many Americans forget to acknowledge the incapacity of local level institutions to properly and successfully integrate immigrants—something that requires the collaboration of everyday Americans within regional and local communities. Discourse over whether America should continue to welcome immigrants, largely depends on whether they can fully integrate within the American society. The cooperation between immigrants, receiving communities, and local governments and services is critical to any city’s continual social, cultural, and economic growth.  Many times, what an American community imposes on immigrants (legal and illegal) instead is the act of assimilation not integration.
Assimilation, by definition, means “absorption; people of different backgrounds come to see themselves as part of a larger national family.”  By assimilating, Americans are asking of immigrants to fully adapt to the American culture and language whilst leaving their own behind. Immigrants begin to lose characteristic and struggle to self-identify. It does not promote unity, but allows one culture to dominate over others.
Take for example a city like Chicago, where many residents remain unhappy with the deep racial and social segregation that is taking place. The New York Times found that, “there is an equal numbers of blacks, whites and Hispanics who live in Chicago, but that they often live on separate sides of town, and, the survey shows, find themselves leading vastly different lives.”  The people of Chicago classify themselves as Chicagoans, yet many feel divided amongst each other and blame the city’s essential institutions such as police, courts, and public schools for its unproductivity and divide between races.  When cities try to assimilate diverse groups of people, they end up being alarmingly divided. They may all be Chicagoans, but it is clear that labels are imposed by the act of assimilation and the act continues to split people by race, beliefs, and financial status.
By integrating, the receiving community is “incorporating a racial or religious group into a community; it is the act of combining into an integral whole.”  In integration, there is the cooperation between the receiving community and immigrants. It does not disregard or neglect other cultures; instead it promotes the collaboration of different cultures. The problem in Chicago is that while minorities are open to moving to different neighborhoods, whites are unwilling or don’t actively seek out integration.  For a city to thrive, especially those that are experiencing a great influx of immigrants or those that are ethnically diverse in population, cooperation is needed from both immigrants and the receiving community. America and its receiving communities need to realize the effectiveness of integration in immigrant gateway cities.
The DACA/DAPA program would have eased the path to naturalization for many immigrants, but would it be enough to set them up for long-term success and ultimately make considerable contribution to America?
In the Netherlands, “Immigrants naturalize much more often than those in the U.S. but have significantly lower employment rates.”  Evidently, naturalization does not assure the full-integration of immigrants. Even when naturalized, many immigrants and their children are at a disadvantage because they are prone to experience language barriers, economic hardships, and an array of other obstacles. A 2007 study in America showed that at the start of kindergarten, 73 percent of third-generation white children demonstrated basic reading proficiency while only 42 percent of first-generation Mexican-American children could recognize letter.  Not to mention that foreign-born parents account for 45 percent of all parents nationwide who lack a high school diploma, and for 27 percent of all low-income parents with young children.  Immigrants will need the help of receiving communities to successfully integrate and thus have a continual positive contribution in America. Although naturalizing immigrants provides them with more job opportunities and benefits, it may not be enough for them to thrive and significantly contribute to an America that actively seeks out social and economic prosperity.
 “Case Files: United States v. Texas.” Supreme Court of the United States Blog.
 “The Obama Administration’s DAPA and Expanded DACA Programs.” National Immigration Law Center. March 2, 2015.
 Lind, Dara. “A Supreme Court tie all but kills Obama’s plans to protect millions of immigrants.” Vox Media. June 23, 2016. http://www.vox.com/2016/6/23/11916632/united-states-texas-daca-dapa
 Shabad, Rebecca & Flores, Reena. “Supreme Court ties in case challenging Obama’s immigration actions.” CBS News. June 23, 2016. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/supreme-court-immigration-obama-executive-action-affirms-lower-court-ruling/
 Alvarez, Clarissa. “Demographic Change & Emerging Gateways in the United States.” Cisneros Center for New Americans. May 2016. https://d3ciwvs59ifrt8.cloudfront.net/1fbfc49e-9771-4b05-9dbe-88debaec6bd6/b32339d2-f294-49a6-826d-b36eb87df475.pdf
 “WordNet: Assimilation.” Princeton University.
 Davey, Monica & Russonello, Giovanni. “In Deeply Divided Chicago, Most Agree: City Is Off Course.” The New York Times. May 6, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/07/us/chicago-racial-divisions-survey.html?_r=0
 “WordNet: Integration.” Princeton University.
 Ihejirika, Maudlyne. “Chicago remains among most segregated U.S. cities: studies.” Chicago Sun-Times. March 2, 2016.
 Vigdor, Jacob L. “Comparing Immigrant Assimilation in North America and Europe.” Manhattan Institute. May 24, 2011.
 Park, Maki & McHugh, Margie. “Immigrant Parents and Early Childhood Programs: Addressing Barriers of Literacy, Culture, and Systems Knowledge.” Migration Policy Institute. 2014.
 Ross, Tracey. “The Case for a Two-Generation Approach for Educating English Language Learners.” Center for American Progress. 2015.
Photo Credit: Flickr User Mark Fischer
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