When Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor set out to write her book “My Beloved World,” she was inspired by a question a journalist asked and that she later asked herself: “Do I really think I had a happy childhood?”
Before Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina to join the Supreme Court, before going to Yale for law school and Princeton for undergrad, she was a young Puerto Rican girl living in South Bronx struggling to get by.
While growing up in South Bronx, Sotomayor lived with an alcoholic dad and a mom who was emotionally distant. They fought about money, the housework, the drinking and even Sotomayor’s insulin shots when she was diagnosed with diabetes.
It wasn’t as happy a childhood as others had perceived, but what was true about her younger self, was that she worked hard even when she was afraid. Even with all the success in her life, she fought fear all her life. And that, ultimately, is the message of her book.
“If I’ve accomplished anything in my book… [it’s] that people will understand the greatest obstacle they will face in life is not discrimination, it’s their own fear,” she told NPR. “Fear often paralyzes us because what kills you and what stops you is not experiencing new things.”
She encourages young Latinos to experience life even with fear. “I can’t tell you how many Latino kids I still talk to who tell me, ‘I don’t want to go away to go college because I don’t want to leave my family,’” she said. “You don’t leave your family by going away to college for god’s sakes! You enrich your life and theirs by doing something they couldn’t do and bringing back the joy home.”
So for any young Latino out there deciding whether to go away to college or not, take the advice of one of the most powerful Latinas in the United States: You’ll be fine.
Sotomayor has a lot more to say. Get inspired with her interview here
On April 18th, the Supreme Court will hear arguments for the case against Deferred Action for Parents of Americans to Legal Permanent Resident (DAPA), with implications for the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Dragging through the courts since February 2015, what started in the bordertown of Brownsville, Texas, is now in the hands of SCOTUS. The case affects roughly 5.2 million undocumented people — more than the city populations of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami combined. Numerous concerns, both constitutional and moral, hang in the balance. It impacts people you know, family members, possibly even you. Here is everything you need to know about this historic court case.
The SCOTUS decision will directly affect MILLIONS of undocumented people.
In 2014, President Obama signed executive orders putting a handful of immigration reform policies in place, the DAPA program and an expansion of 2012’s DACA among them. (The case itself would only impact the expansion, not DACA itself.) The case addresses constitutionality of executive authority with regard to immigration reform. At stake is the lawful presence of MILLIONS of undocumented people.
DAPA? DACA? You’ve heard the terms, but what do they even mean?
Let’s break it down and see what these two executive orders are all about, shall we?
To understand DAPA, you need to know DACA. DACA appeared in 2012, offering certain people who were brought to the U.S. as children educational opportunities, work permits and, importantly, relief from deportation.
DACA provides relief for children who had no control over the decision to immigrate. Some don’t even know a life outside of the U.S.
To qualify for DACA, you: Were under 31 as of June 15, 2012 (when DACA was created); entered the U.S. before turning 16; have continuous residence since June 15, 2007; were physically present in the U.S. on the date DACA was created and the date of your DACA request; entered without inspection or your visa expired before June 15, 2012; are currently in school, have graduated with a high school diploma or have a GED certificate, or were honorably discharged from the military; and have no felony convictions, a significant misdemeanor, or three other misdemeanors on your record, and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
The criteria were pretty stringent, but the program immediately offered 1.2 million young, undocumented immigrants some kind of safety for the first time.
And since DACA was implemented four years ago, hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented people living in the U.S. have renewed and maintained their DACA status. The current DACA law states that people benefiting from the program can renew their DACA status every two years. It is not guaranteed that their DACA request will be granted every time.
So, DACA’s been in effect for 4 years with some positive results… what’s the deal?
Well, on Nov. 20, 2014, when President Obama signed those executive orders on immigration, they did two things: (1) Expand the current DACA program to offer protection and benefits to more people and (2) created DAPA, which would open up some of those similar DACA protections and benefits to undocumented parents of children who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents.
Under DACA expansion, the age cap is lifted, the continuous residence rule relaxed, and 290,000 ~more~ people who have lived most of their lives in the U.S. can register.
This means that anyone who came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday can be a DACA recipient. The expansion also states that you have to have continuous residence in the US as of Jan. 1, 2010 instead of June 15, 2007. This would open up the program to 290,000 more undocumented immigrants seeking protection and stability, bringing the total number of people eligible for DACA protection to 1.5 million.
DACA recipients would also get more time between renewals, up from two years to three, giving them fewer encounters with immigration services.
Like DACA, DAPA recipients must have continuous residence in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010; they had to have been physically present in the U.S. on Nov. 20, 2014, and when they request DAPA; they must have no lawful status on Nov. 20, 2014 (either unchecked entry or expired visa); as of Nov. 20, 2014, those requesting DAPA must have a child who is a U.S. citizen of any age or marital status, or their child has to be a permanent legal resident; and, again, no felonies, significant misdemeanor, multiple minor misdemeanors, nor can they pose any threat or be prioritized for deportation.
DAPA has the potential to directly and immediately impact the lives of 3.7 million people living in the U.S.
Now, imagine losing the entire populations of those three cities and think about the repercussions, both human and economic. The number of people that would benefit from the orders is still less than half of the 11.4 million undocumented people living in the U.S.
So, what is this court case all about and how did it start?
On February 16, 2015, just two days before DAPA and expanded DACA were supposed to take affect, Judge Hanen handed down a 123-page memorandum putting a halt to the implementation of the executive orders President Obama had signed three months before. Judge Hanen argued that the passing of expanded DACA and DAPA would place an undue burden on the states in terms of public schooling and subsidized medical costs, while ignoring the potential benefits like job creation, increased wages and increased tax revenue generated by those who would be “legalized” by the order.
Texas, along with 25 other states, filed the lawsuit claiming that President Obama had overreached his authority by signing the executive orders into law. Basically, they are challenging the case on a technicality, not the orders themselves.
The states suing against DACA expansion and DAPA are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
After the Hanen decision, the case was appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The government asked for a stay on the injunction to allow expanded DACA and DAPA, but it was denied.