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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Seattle-area immigrants: 'We'll keep fighting'

Eli Tinoco, mother of two American children, would have qualified for the DAPA program, which remains blocked after a split court decision.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones
Eli Tinoco, mother of two American children, would have qualified for the DAPA program, which remains blocked after a split court decision.

Immigrants and advocates around the Seattle area say their fight is far from over. The recent Supreme Court ruling is a setback, they say, and also a catalyst to focus on the presidential election. 


The high court deadlocked, four to four, on this major immigration ruling. Seattle attorney Jorge Baron says he wants a clear win on the next battlefront.

Baron: “We as a country are not going to end up in a tie in November. We’re going to have the opportunity at the ballot box to make a decision about where immigration policy is going to go, along with many important issues.”

Baron heads the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. He and other local leaders spoke to reporters about Thursday’s court decision.

The court effectively blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. Under the plan, some five million immigrants would have become eligible for work permits and protected from deportation.

Mostly, they’re parents of American citizens, like Washington resident Ela Tinoco. She got emotional at the press conference.

Tinoco: “Today is disappointing for me. And for the whole immigrant community.”

Tinoco also speaks English but Spanish comes easier, especially today.

Tinoco says she came here 16 years ago to escape the violence of Honduras. Her three children have legal status in this country, but not her.

She says her kids live with an emergency plan in place, in case she's ever picked up.

Tinoco: "At any moment things could change. At any moment we could have to move."

Obama’s plan would’ve given them some peace. It also would’ve given them a chance to travel outside the country.

Tinoco: "That was my hope. I'd told my kids that maybe we'd spend next Christmas in Mexico or Honduras. We got travel books at the library."

The kids could finally meet their grandparents. And Tinoco could see her parents after 16 years apart. 

Soon she’ll break the news to everyone; the family reunion will have to wait.

Year started with KUOW: 2006