What the new Supreme Court term means for Dreamers and LGBTQ people in Texas

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The U.S. Supreme Court and its conservative majority have officially kicked off this year’s nine-month term. On the docket are several high-profile cases that could determine the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Texans. Here’s what’s at stake.

Dreamers

The immigration status of more than 200,000 Dreamers — undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — is at risk in Texas. In November, the Supreme Court is expected to decide whether the Obama-era program that shielded Dreamers from deportation can be revoked by President Trump.

Texas is second only to California in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA recipients. Viktor Garcia Esquivel, a DACA recipient with United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led movement that fights for Dreamers, told the Signal how the upcoming Supreme Court could impact them. 

“I have a good-paying job and am able to pay for some of sister’s school, provide for my family and help them with bills and I was able to get a driver’s license and drive without fearing getting stopped by cops,” Esquivel said. “When I heard the Supreme Court would take the case, it was bittersweet. Not having DACA would put a huge stop on my dreams and future plans and the futures of other DACA recipients like me.” 

A survey by the Center for American Progress found that an overwhelming majority (91 percent) of Dreamers are employed, with more than 100,000 DACA recipients working in Texas and contributing roughly $6.2 billion annually to the state’s economy. 

LGBTQ equality

This week, the Court is expected to begin hearing multiple cases that will decide whether it’s legal to fire LGBTQ people for being gay or transgender.  

The Trump administration and Justice Department officials have argued that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion or sex, does not apply to sexual orientation. Supporters of the Obama-era interpretation of the historic civil rights legislation say it should stay that way and hope the Supreme Court ruling will set a precedent that allows LGBTQ people to enjoy federal employment protections.

The Supreme Court will hear multiple cases over the issue, including the first transgender civil rights complaint ever argued in front of the Supreme Court filed by a Michigan woman who was fired from her job in 2013 after telling her boss she was transitioning.

In Texas, where LGBTQ people can already be fired simply for who they are, the court case could reinforce, even codify, the reality that the estimated 800,000 LGTQ people in the state can be terminated for no other reason other than their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

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