N.J. immigrants wait as U.S. Supreme Court hears challenge to Obama orders on immigrants

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday on an immigration case that could affect hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants in New Jersey.

President Obama’s 2014 executive orders to defer deportation of immigrants have not taken effect because 26 states challenged them as an unconstitutional overreach of authority.

Elizabeth resident Olga Armas, an undocumented mother of three, said the executive actions would relieve many of her fears.

“I could see myself getting a work permit, a Social Security card, and even a driver’s license to drive legally and work legally in the country,” Armas said through a translator. “It will help me take care of my children better since I will be able to drive legally and transport them to school.”

Erika Nava, an analyst for New Jersey Policy Perspective, said about 146,000 undocumented immigrants in New Jersey would be able to get work permits if the presidents orders take effect.

“They will be able to participate more fully in the economy. Their wages will increase by 5 to 10 percent as they find jobs that are better matched to their skills, are less vulnerable to exploitative employers, and are able to drive legally,” Nava said. “This wage bump is key to New Jersey’s undocumented families because it will help reduce poverty.”

Nava says the new policies would also reassure children who are U.S. citizens that their undocumented parents won’t be taken away and deported.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.