Supreme Court Split Keeps Obama's Immigration Plans Stalled

Supreme Court Split Keeps Obama's Immigration Plans Stalled
Supporters of President Obama's immigration executive actions rally outside of the Supreme Court as oral arguments are heard in United States v Texas on April 18, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans were counting as a victory today’s 4-4 Supreme Court split on the legality of President Obama’s immigration program to grant deferred action on deportation to parents of children legalized by his previous immigration order.

As a result of the tie in United States v Texas, a lower court injunction remains in place and Obama’s immigration plan remains blocked.

“By going around Congress to grant legal status to millions of people here illegally, the president abused the power of his office and ignored the will of the American people,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. “The president can’t circumvent the legislative process simply because he doesn’t get what he wants, and I’m glad the rule of law was affirmed.”

Cornyn and 42 other Senate Republicans filed an amicus brief in support of Texas’ challenge of Obama’s November 2014 directive.

“Given that the Executive has asserted that the acts challenged here are not even subject to judicial review, what is at stake in this matter is nothing less than an effort to supplant Congress’s constitutional power to ‘establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.’ Such an action stands in stark contravention to federal law and to the constitutional principle of the separation of powers,” the brief stated. “There is little doubt that the Executive adopted the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (“DAPA”) program as part of an explicit effort to circumvent the legislative process.”

“Today’s judgment confirms what Republicans have been saying since President Obama announced his lawless executive amnesty plan – his actions were unwise, unlawful, and – most importantly – unconstitutional,” said another Texas lawmaker, House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas). “The Supreme Court’s decision to affirm the ruling that halted the president’s blatant abuse of executive authority is a major victory for Article I of the Constitution, the rule of law, and the American people.”

President Obama appeared in the White House briefing room to say that while his program would be unable to move forward, there would still be low enforcement priority for the four million illegal immigrants who would have been legalized under DAPA.

Still, he said, the ruling “takes us further from the country that we want it to be.”

Obama stressed that “fortunately” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) is unaffected by the ruling, but DAPA “can’t go forward at this stage until there is a ninth justice on the court to break the tie.”

“Enforcement priorities developed by my administration are not affected by this ruling,” he added.

The president admitted that immigration reform is “obviously not going to happen the remainder of this Congress.”

“That’s the real amnesty, pretending that we can deport 11 million people… it’s a fantasy,” he said. “Immigration is not something to fear; we don’t have to wall ourselves off … now we’ve got a choice about who we want to be as a country, what we teach our kids.”

“Sooner or later immigration reform will get done… it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

Obama credited the current fervor against illegal immigration to historical “spasms of politics around immigration, fear-mongering, then our traditions and our history and our better impulses kick in.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) noted it was “another day, another strong rebuke from the highest court in the land for President Obama’s lawless actions.”

“The Supreme Court just slammed the door on the president’s executive amnesty program. The United States cannot afford to reward those who are coming here illegally,” Barrasso said. “The court was absolutely right in putting an end to this outrageous executive overreach.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the deadlock a “win for Congress and a win in our fight to restore the separation of powers… Congress, not the president, writes our laws.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who reversed course Wednesday and decided to run for re-election, called it “the right decision.”

“No matter what solutions one may prefer to fix our broken immigration system, those policies must be pursued and passed into law by Congress. Immigration policy cannot be imposed on the country based on the whims and political goals of a president,” said Rubio. “While the Supreme Court’s decision makes clear that President Obama has acted lawlessly, it does not leaveCongress off the hook either. This is also another reminder of how important who fills the vacancy on the Supreme Court is.”

“We have a disastrous immigration system that needs to be fixed, and Congress needs to take the lead in doing so by starting by securing our borders and enforcing our laws.”

One person who wants to fill that Supreme Court vacancy, Hillary Clinton, called the decision “purely procedural and casts no doubt on the fact that DAPA and DACA are entirely within the president’s legal authority.”

“But in addition to throwing millions of families across our country into a state of uncertainty, this decision reminds us how much damage Senate Republicans are doing by refusing to consider President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Our families and our country need and deserve a full bench, and Senate Republicans need to stop playing political games with our democracy and give Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and vote,” Clinton said.

She said the deadlock was “unacceptable, and show us all just how high the stakes are in this election.”

“This decision is also a stark reminder of the harm Donald Trump would do to our families, our communities, and our country. Trump has pledged to repeal President Obama’s executive actions on his first day in office. He has called Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’ and ‘murderers.’ He has called for creating a ‘deportation force’ to tear 11 million people away from their families and their homes,” Clinton added.

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka called the ruling “a setback for all those who have fought for more humane and rational enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.”

“While we are deeply disappointed by the court’s failure to reach a decision, we will redouble our organizing efforts to defeat the obstructionist, anti-immigrant forces behind this lawsuit and ensure that all working people can assert their rights on the job and in the community without fear of deportation,” the union boss said. “This decision will further motivate a resilient community that is a vibrant and vital part of our labor movement. We continue to urge the administration to use its discretion to protect those courageous immigrant workers who are exercising their workplace and civil rights.”