DALLAS — Dallas County is jumping into the middle of the ongoing national debate surrounding immigration reform.
The Dallas County Commissioners Court passed an order 4-1 Tuesday to join an amicus brief in support of President Obama's deferred action plan.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the president's executive order would help nearly 300,000 unauthorized migrants living in the county.
"When people are able to register and have some comfort level that they will not be deported if they are able to report crimes, we should support that," he said.
Lupita Niño is one of them. The mother of four moved to Dallas from Monterrey, Mexico in 1988.
"We live in a struggle," she said. "We live with the fear that any time immigration could deport me."
Her 27-year old daughter obtained legal status through the government's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) two years ago.
Part of the immigration order announced by Obama last November lets parents of children with legal status stay in the U.S under deferred action for three years.
Jenkins said that when combining Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties, immigration reforms would benefit North Texas more than any other region in the country. The president's deferred action would shield nearly four million unauthorized immigrants — including an estimated 300,000 in Dallas County — from deportation.
A federal judge in Brownsville halted the program last month, saying the president exceeded his executive authority.
Now the appeals have started, and supporters on both sides of the legal fight are weighing in.
Jenkins presented the order to county commissioners urging Dallas County to join Travis County and cities like El Paso and Houston in formally backing the administration's immigration plan.
Commissioner Mike Cantrell, the lone Republican on the court, said Dallas County is jumping into a federal matter into which most other local governments are avoiding involvement. "There's what? Two-hundred-and-fifty-four counties in the state? And we're just the third to sign on," he said.
Lupita Niño said she appreciates the symbolism of the vote by Commissioners Court, but her future in the country she now calls home is still no more certain.
"Every day is the same," she said. "You wake up and say, 'In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, nothing is going to happen to me... everything is going to be OK.'"