The Supreme Court announced a deadlock today in a case about an immigration reform measure by President Obama. It would have allowed millions of undocumented parents of American citizens and permanent residents to avoid deportation and live in the light.
Texas led 26 states in opposing the Obama administration's measure, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. After the ruling's release, the President issued a statement expressing regret that he could do no more for immigrants before his term ended.
Thwarted by Republicans in immigration reform efforts and attempts to appoint Merrick Garland to the High Court, Obama reminded Americans that a time of reckoning is coming with presidential elections in November. But for about five million undocumented parents of citizens and lawful permanent residents, the deadlocked court's decision today dealt the greatest blow.
"This is personal," Rocio Saenz, the executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, said in a statement reported by The New York Times. "We will remain at the front lines, committed to defending the immigration initiatives and paving the path to lasting immigration reform."
What Was at Stake
The parents of citizens and permanent residents affected by the measure would not have been granted citizenship. What they would have been given, the federal government argued in US v. Texas, is dignity. The 26 states that opposed DAPA argued that the administration was over-reaching and giving benefits to many in a blanket measure.
Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the Supreme Court, on behalf of DAPA, that providing lawful presence was not much actually, and well within executive powers. "Deferred action does not provide these individuals with any lawful status under the immigration laws," he said. "But it provides some measure of dignity and decent treatment." He argued too that it would save families from heartbreak and make life safer for people dwelling in the shadows and working off the books.
Technically speaking, Texas challenged the administration's measure in fedreal court because DAPA caused the state direct injury. As a result of its passage, it would have to issue drivers' licenses to beneficiaries of the program, which would cost Texas money.
An injunction was granted, halting the program, based on the fact that DAPA gave blanket relief, yet the administration gave no notice or opportunity for public comment on the program. The administration argued, by contrast, that no blanket relief would be offered because each grant would be made on a case-by-case basis. Nonetheless, an appeals court affirmed the injunction and now the Supreme Court has announced deadlock on the matter.
The long and short of it is that the immigration reform effort was successfully thwarted. In non-technical terms, it's dead in the water.
If you are concerned about immigration issues, talk to a lawyer. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to talk.