After voting 4-4 in one of the most polarizing immigration cases in recent history, the Supreme Court’s failure to provide a decisive ruling on United States v. Texas means an earlier lower court decision blocking the implementation of the Obama administration’s deferred action initiatives on immigrants still stands.
The deadlock decision upholds a Texas court injunction against Obama’s 2014 executive action, a decision further upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The High Court ruling also prevents the expansion of an even earlier program that protects immigrants brought to the United States as children from being deported.
The split decision reflects the divide in Congress and the rest of the nation over the issue of immigration. Democrat lawmakers, including Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, expressed dismay over the ruling and its damaging effects on immigrant families, while Republicans praised the decision as a preservation of government’s separation of powers.
The impasse, however, has not fazed immigration rights activists, who promise to continue to the fight.
Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said, “The stakes in United States v. Texas could not have been higher: Millions have watched, and waited, for the Supreme Court to affirm the president’s authority to inject some common sense into our immigration system. Today, the eight justices failed to act, and countless families will suffer as a consequence. U.S. citizen children like Sophie Cruz will continue to live in daily fear that their mom or dad won’t be there one day to kiss them goodnight. And immigrant entrepreneurs like Cris Mercado won’t be able to reach their full potential.”
Likewise, Rocio Saenz, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, said, “We will remain at the front lines, committed to defending the immigration initiatives and paving the path to lasting immigration reform.”
President Obama first announced the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in November 2014. Both initiatives would have provided a legal option for undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to apply for temporary work permits in 3-year periods, protecting them from deportation.
The proposed programs met strong opposition from a coalition of 26 Republican-controlled states, led by Texas, who promptly filed a lawsuit against the federal government in December 2014. In February the following year, a Texas district court judge ruled in favor of Texas, blocking DAPA and the DACA expansion.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who played an active role in fighting the proposed programs, said the President’s executive action was an abuse of authority and a breach of the Constitution’s separation of powers. He hailed the High Court for rightly denying the president the power to unilaterally grant amnesty against existing immigration laws.
In light of this recent development, if you need to discuss your options with an expert on immigration law, don’t hesitate to contact us at the Lyttle Law Firm. Call us now at (512) 215.5225.