A Supreme Court deadlock has killed Obama’s immigration plan

Dashed hopes.
Dashed hopes.
Image: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The US Supreme Court on Thursday (June 23) killed president Barack Obama’s plan to shield millions of illegal immigrants from being deported, crushing the hopes of immigrant families across the country and fueling the already-contentious debate around immigration ahead of the presidential election.

In a 4-4 tie, the deadlocked court backed the judgment by a lower court that had blocked the program. Dubbed Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, it would have protected from deportation nearly four million immigrants who are living in the country illegally but have children who are US citizens or legal residents. DAPA would have also given those immigrants a work permit.

The policy was Obama’s response to stalled efforts in Congress to revamp the country’s immigration system. But several states led by Texas contested the plan in court, arguing that Obama was overstepping his authority.

“Today’s decision keeps in place what we have maintained from the very start: one person, even a president, cannot unilaterally change the law,” said Ken Paxton, Texas attorney general, after the decision.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called the court’s decision “unacceptable,” adding that she will continue to push for changes to the immigration system if she’s elected. She also pointed out the importance of filling the Supreme Court seat left empty by justice Antonin Scalia’s death earlier this year.

“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,” she said in a statement.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump didn’t immediately weigh in, but he had said in the past that he would kill Obama’s plan (link in Spanish) during his first 100 days in office.

In a separate decision released today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of affirmative-action practices—also known as positive discrimination, or race-conscious decisions—in college admissions.