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Immigrant Groups To DACA, DAPA Candidates: Don't Get Discouraged

Lisann Ramos

On Tuesday the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans denied a request by the U.S. Department of Justice to lift the hold on President Obama’s executive action on immigration. That hold was put in place by a Texas judge in February.

This decision further delays the implementation of the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs. Those would prevent deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants.

South Florida immigration groups held a press conference in hopes of reaching out to the undocumented community to say "do not to get discouraged."

“This is a judicial setback but our movement was never a judicial movement," said Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. "It was a social movement with diverse sectors defending the dignity of all people, including immigrants, and we’ll continue defending it."

Rodriguez believes President Obama’s executive action on immigration has authority over the judges’ decision.

In December Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi included Florida in a lawsuit against the president’s action.

Julio Calderon is an undocumented immigrant who doesn't qualify for deferred action because he came to the United States 30 days after his 16th birthday. He attended the press conference to show support for fellow undocumented youth.

“I want to ask Pam Bondi to go to one of those schools and tell one of those students that they won’t be able to go to school. When you get to see your family members and you tell them that they’re gonna be able to go to college or go to university, it’s very inspiring,” said Calderon. “Getting to see these students not be able to do that because they don’t have a work permit, it really hurts. And I get to see them every day."

Calderon encourages those who still qualify for a college education and driver’s license to apply and renew their applications.

  "I'm in the fight because I'm not the only one" - Julio Calderon, undocumented immigrant at #DACA #DAPA presser A video posted by WLRN Public Media (@wlrn) on May 26, 2015 at 5:14pm PDT

Mauro Kennedy, a contractor, has lived in Miami since 2001. He is undocumented and was recently diagnosed with a degenerative disease. Soon he won't be able to work on his feet.

“They are not allowing me to contribute to this economy, to my community. I think that we need to fight this thing, because it’s the only opportunity for our lives,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy’s only hope for surgery is the implementation of DAPA.

  "These people are blocking our lives" - Mauro Kennedy, undocumented contractor who can't work, says he's depending on DAPA for surgery he needs for a degenerative disease. A video posted by WLRN Public Media (@wlrn) on May 26, 2015 at 5:41pm PDT

Local immigration groups plan to continue their fight for immigration reform.