Supreme Court Just Ruled On Immigration, Affecting Millions Of Families

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images.
The Supreme Court has tied in a ruling on immigration reform, effectively ending President Obama’s efforts on the issue during his administration.

The court ruled 4-4 in United States v. Texas to affirm a lower court’s injunction against the implementation of an executive action that would have shielded millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, according to SCOTUSBlog.
The case revolved around an executive action that expanded the Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and added the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which, together, would have protected undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, as well as undocumented immigrants who are parents of American citizen children, from immediate deportation. Instead, immigrants who qualified for the programs would have been eligible to apply to stay in the country for three years, and able to work legally.

The action was challenged by 26 states, led by Texas, who asserted that the action overstepped the bounds of executive power and violated the Constitution. A Texas judge issued an injunction preventing the action from going into effect, which was upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
After the decision, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the ruling in a statement shared with Talking Points Memo. “Today’s decision keeps in place what we have maintained from the very start: One person, even a president, cannot unilaterally change the law. This is a major setback to President Obama’s attempts to expand executive power, and a victory for those who believe in the separation of powers and the rule of law,” he said.

The 4-4 tie means that, though the injunction is upheld, the ruling does not set a binding precedent for future legislation. In a statement after the ruling, President Obama blamed the inconclusive decision on Congress' failure to confirm his nominee, Merrick Garland, to the empty ninth seat on the Supreme Court bench.
"The court's inability to reach a decision in this case is a very clear reminder of why it's so important for the Supreme Court to have a full bench," Obama said.

Nevertheless, he said he believed immigration reform was inevitable, though it won't happen during his administration. "Sooner or later, immigration reform will get done," he said. "It's not a matter of 'if,' it's a matter of 'when.'"

Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both weighed in on the Supreme Court’s decision regarding immigration reform on Thursday, taking markedly different stances on an issue that’s been heavily disputed on both sides of the aisle.

Trump, who has famously been in favor of closing the border to immigrants, and advocates building a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border, praised the decision in a statement posted to his campaign website. “The executive amnesty from President Obama wiped away the immigration rules written by Congress, giving work permits and entitlement benefits to people illegally in the country,” he wrote.

On the other side, Democrat Hillary Clinton called the decision “heartbreaking” in a tweet released shortly after the decision. “Today’s heartbreaking #SCOTUS immigration ruling could tear apart 5 million families facing deportation. We must do better,” she said in a message released in both English and Spanish. Clinton had spoken out in favor of the executive action at the center of the case, stating on her campaign website that she promised to defend the action if elected.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to include statements from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

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