Supreme Court keeps executive actions on immigration blocked
White House sought to sidestep Congress, which has declined to take up comprehensive immigration reform
In a crushing blow to the White House, the Supreme Court announced Thursday it was evenly divided in a case concerning President Barack Obama’s controversial executive actions on immigration.
The one-sentence ruling, issued without comment or dissent, means that the programs will remain blocked from going into effect, and the issue will return to the lower court. It is exceedingly unlikely the programs will go into effect for the remainder of the Obama presidency.
Obama, speaking at the White House, lamented the ruling.
“For more than two decades now our immigration system, everybody acknowledges, has been broken,” Obama said. “And the fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be.”
The ruling will impact the more than 4 million undocumented immigrants seeking to be able to come out of the shadows and apply for these programs to stay in the United States. Immediately after Obama announced them in late 2014, Texas and 25 other states challenged the plans and they were blocked nationwide by a federal district court the next year.
Immigration has already been a prominent and highly charged topic of the 2016 election already this year, and this ruling guarantees it will only be more so.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton criticized the ruling, saying it is evidence not only of why the Supreme Court needs a ninth justice, but also that the delay of Obama’s immigration programs adds importance to putting a Democrat in the White House to continue the fight to put them in place.
“Today’s deadlocked decision from the Supreme Court is unacceptable, and show us all just how high the stakes are in this election,” Clinton said in a statement Thursday morning. She later tweeted, calling it “heartbreaking.”
Trump tweeted that the court “kept us safe” from amnesty and in a statement said the issue is key in November’s election.
“The election, and the Supreme Court appointments that come with it will decide whether or not we have a border and, hence, a country. Clinton has pledged to expand Obama’s executive amnesty, hurting poor African-American and Hispanic workers by giving away their jobs and federal resources to illegal immigrant labor – while making us all less safe,” he said.
The topic of undocumented immigrants has been a central theme this campaign. While Democrats have pushed for immigration reform and leniency to some people living in the country illegally, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has spoken forcefully about deporting the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and disparaged Mexican immigrants during his campaign.