The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on Thursday that will halt President Barack Obama’s plan to defer the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants in the country — deadlocking over a controversial executive action on immigration that now leaves the fate of the undocumented population in limbo.
The 4–4 decision will effectively leave in place a lower court’s ruling that blocked the president’s 2014 initiative to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) initiatives, which allow undocumented parents of Americans to receive temporary deportation relief and work authorization for up to three years.
Both initiatives were blocked last February by a multi-state lawsuit. They will remain blocked as the case returns to a lower court.
If my parents were in deportation proceedings, my family would completely break apart.
Immigrants and advocates, many of whom stood holding signs in front of the Supreme Court on Thursday, were left feeling disappointed and angry by the decision. Major immigrant advocacy groups released statements saying they are in mourning. If the programs had been allowed to take effect, they believe it could have allowed them to be less afraid of encountering federal immigration authorities who could rip their families apart.
For immigrants like the Pintos, a a Latino family of five with varying immigration statuses, the decision means they will continue to live in the shadows.
“If my parents were in deportation proceedings, my family would completely break apart,” the Pintos’ daughter Ambar, an undocumented activist who benefited from DACA, previously told ThinkProgress. “If it was my dad, I would be the one responsible to sustain my family because my mom doesn’t have access to a driver’s license and she works from time to time. I don’t know what would happen to my brothers. It’s important that we have DAPA so that my parents won’t be deported for at least two years.”
Everything You Need To Know About The Supreme Court Challenge To Obama’s Immigration PoliciesJustice by CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais Brownsville, Texas, is nowhere near the state capital in Austin…thinkprogress.orgSince Thursday’s decision sends the case back to the lower courts for further proceedings, there’s a chance the issue could make it up to the Supreme Court again — which means that the 2016 general election may very well determine whether the policy can be resurrected. If Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wins and appoints another Supreme Court justice, like Merrick Garland, the court would have the fifth vote needed to allow the DAPA and DACA programs to take effect.
Clinton, whose immigration policy plans include a legal pathway for undocumented immigrants and a continuation of the executive actions, called the Supreme Court decision “unacceptable,” noting that the decisions “are entirely within the President’s legal authority.”
Some advocates are already setting their sights on the November election to empower Latino and minority voters to vote as a way to ensure a favorable decision.
This betrayal is personal for us.
“Time and time again, Latinos and immigrants have showed resilience as a community and now more than ever, it is important that we continue to show our resilience and power at the ballot box,” President and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar of the Latino voter advocacy group Voto Latino said in a press statement.
“This betrayal is personal for us,” Angelica Salas, executive director for the immigrant rights group Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) said. “We will hold anti-immigrants who brought this meritless lawsuit forward accountable in November. As these politicians have tried so hard to tear our families apart, we will return strengthened, committed, organized, and ready to elect pro-immigrant leaders and the local, state, and federal levels in 2016.”
The Supreme Court may be divided on the DAPA and DACA programs, but the American public is not. A full 73 percent of Americans, including 65 percent of Republican voters, support DAPA and expanded DACA, according to a Public Religion Research Institute poll released Thursday.