Immigration and Citizenship

Supreme Court Split Blocks Obama Immigration Plan

By Christine Kim

The Supreme Court has deadlocked over a case regarding President Barack Obama’s immigration plan, it announced on Thursday, blocking the plan from taking effect which would have allowed undocumented immigrants to receive work permits and protected over four million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The 4-4 split vote was announced with a one-sentence ruling that reads, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.” The tie vote leaves in place a lower court ruling made in 2015 that ruled against Obama’s executive order.

“This is a ruling that affects millions of American families, but because the Supreme Court does not have its full complement of nine justices, the court was unable to deliver a definitive ruling a case of such national importance.” said president of Constitutional Accountability Center Elizabeth Wydra, referring to Justice Antonin Scalia’s death this past February.

Obama expressed his frustration shortly after the announcement of the ruling.

“It is heartbreaking for the millions of immigrants who’ve made their lives here, who’ve raised families here, who hoped for the opportunity to work, pay taxes, serve in our military, and more fully contribute to this country we all love in an open way,” he said, according to USA Today.

Obama announced his immigration programs via an executive order in 2014. Immediately, a coalition of 26 states, including Texas, blocked the plan on the basis that the president overstepped his power in attempts to bypass Congress.

In 2015, a federal judge blocked the plan from taking effect, siding with the states.

“Today’s decision keeps in place what we have maintained from the very start: One person, even a president, cannot unilaterally change the law,” Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said in a statement following the ruling.

The program, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, would have offered protection to parents of children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents from deportation and provided a renewable work permit for three years.

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