Last week’s U.S. Supreme Court tie vote on a case involving President Obama’s immigration plan was a severe disappointment for Florida’s immigrant community. The 4-4 deadlock left undisturbed a ruling from a federal appeals court that shut down two of the President’s programs, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, and the extension of a similar program, DACA, which protected immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. The programs would have affected millions of immigrants who lack legal status.
Under DAPA, undocumented immigrants who were the parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents would have been shielded from deportation and made eligible for work permits. Texas and 25 other states challenged the law, claiming the President did not have legal authority to implement such a plan without Congress’s approval. They also argued that the President failed to follow proper procedures for changing administrative rules. The states did not challenge the original DACA program, implemented in 2012, but objected to its expansion in 2014.
The Administration argued that the President acted within his lawful authority. They pointed out that a number of previous presidents had exercised broad executive authority in immigration matters.
As a result of the Court’s tie vote, many undocumented immigrants in Florida will have to remain in the shadows, at least until the presidential election this November. The good news is that the court’s deadlock creates no precedent. This means the next president can use executive orders to implement immigration reform on a piecemeal basis if Congress continues to fail to act. A much worse result would have been a decision that the President’s actions violated the Constitution.
Source: New York Times, “Supreme Court Tie Blocks Obama Immigration Plan,” Adam Liptak & Michael D. Shear, June 23, 2016