In one of today's widely anticipated rulings by the Supreme Court, the highest US legal institution dealt a blow to President Obama on Thursday, after it was deadlocked over the legality of the president's controversial immigration programs. In a one-sentence decision, the court affirmed a lower court's ruling blocking the programs from going forward.
The U.S. Supreme Court divided evenly over President Barack Obama’s plan to shield as many as 4 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation, a deadlock that effectively kills the initiative for the rest of his presidency.
The 4-4 split leaves intact an appeals court ruling that said Obama overstepped his authority, along with a trial judge’s order preventing the program from taking effect.
As The Hill adds, the justices grappled during oral arguments over whether Texas and 25 other states had a legal basis to challenge the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) initiative, which allows undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to stay in the country for three years and apply for a work permit. Both programs have been on hold since February 2015. The states claimed they would be burdened by having to spend more on public services like healthcare, law enforcement and education if undocumented parents of both American citizens and legal permanent residents are allowed to stay in the country. Texas, specifically, said it would be hurt by having to issue more drivers licenses, a benefit that’s now subsidized.
Supporters of the administration, however, argued that Texas could pass the added costs for driver’s licenses on to residents. They claim the challenging states actually stand to make money off of Obama’s programs from an increase in tax contributions.
According to Bloomberg, the deadlock may stoke what already is a fiery debate in the presidential campaign over the 11 million people who are in the country illegally.
More importantly, the decision underscores the significance of the partisan battle to fill the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s Feb. 13 death, and how important the political affiliation of the next president wil be.
As is the court’s normal practice, the justices didn’t say which of them were on which side of the case. Arguments in April suggested the possibility of an ideological divide.
Obama acted after Congress hit a stalemate in efforts to pass a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws. Under the program, people whose children are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, and who meet other requirements, could have gotten relief from deportation for three years. Those individuals, who are primarily from Mexico and Central America, wouldn’t have been given an easier path to citizenship.
The president said the program was simply a broader exercise of his accepted power to set priorities in deciding who should be deported. Opponents said Obama was offering amnesty for people who broke the law to enter or remain in the country.