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Supreme Court tie vote blocks temporary plan to stop deportations

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Supreme Court tie vote blocks temporary plan to stop deportations

WASHINGTON (CNS) — With a tie vote June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Obama administration’s plan to temporarily protect more than 4 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation.

The court’s 4-4 vote leaves in place a lower court injunction blocking the administration’s
immigration policy with the one-page opinion stating: “The judgment is
affirmed by an equally divided court.”

Legal experts have called it an ambiguous and confusing political and legal decision that
leaves many in a state of limbo. It also puts a lot of attention on the vacant
Supreme Court seat that may determine how the case is decided in an appeal.

Religious leaders were quick to denounce the court’s action as a setback for immigrant families and stressed the urgency of comprehensive immigration reform.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, called the court’s decision “a sad ruling” and
said the president’s immigration plan had been “the result of years
of painstaking work and committed efforts by migrant advocates, grass-roots
organizations, some legislators and the faith community.”

The bishop was joined in the statement by Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, and the Hope Border Institute, a community organization on the U.S.-Mexico border. The statement also said the court’s decision exposes how the current immigration policy in the U.S. “criminalizes and scapegoats immigrants who fight for a better life for their children and
families that contribute every day to our economy and communities.”

In a news briefing, President Barack Obama said the country’s immigration system is
broken and the Supreme Court’s inability to reach a decision set it back even

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin praised the court’s decision for making clear that “the
president is not permitted to write laws — only Congress is,” which he said was a “major victory in our fight to restore the separation of

At issue in the United States v. Texas case are Obama’s executive actions on immigration
policy that were challenged by 26 states.

The Texas Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, said in a statement that “respect for human life and dignity demands leaders put people before politics.” Added Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston: “Our legislators
continuously refuse to address immigration policies in a comprehensive manner.”

“I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision … putting millions of
families at risk of being ripped apart,” said Dominican Sister Bernardine
Karge of Chicago, speaking for the Washington-based group Faith in Public Life.

stories of immigrant families are intimately woven into the tapestry of this
great country, and today’s decision threatens our nation’s commitment to
justice and compassion,” she said, adding that she hoped the presumptive
presidential nominees and Congress makes comprehensive immigration reform a

Atkinson, executive director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. or
CLINIC, similarly expressed disappointment in the court’s decision and said the
responsibility is more than ever on Congress to come up with comprehensive immigration

She said the court’s decision will put “millions
of long-term U.S. residents in fear of law enforcement and at risk of
mistreatment in the workplace, by landlords and from abusers due to threats of

The case,
argued before the court in April, involved Obama’s 2014 expansion of a 2012
program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and creation
of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents,
known as DAPA.

The programs
had been put on hold last November by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
New Orleans, upholding a Texas-based federal judge’s injunction against the
executive actions. The
original DACA program is not affected by the injunction.

The states
suing the federal government claimed the president went too far and was not
just putting a temporary block on deportations, but giving immigrants in the
country without legal permission a “lawful presence” that enabled
them to qualify for Social Security and Medicare benefits.

U.S. Solicitor
General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who defended the government, said the
“pressing human concern” was to avoid breaking up families of U.S.
citizen children, something echoed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, CLINIC,
and at least three Catholic colleges, which joined in a brief with more than 75
education and children’s advocacy organizations.

When the case
was argued before the high court in mid-April, Justice Sonia Sotomayor stressed
that the 4 million immigrants who might be given a temporary reprieve from
deportation “are living in the shadows” and “are here whether we
want them or not,” adding that the government had limited resources
available for deportations.

Saenz, a lawyer representing three mothers in in the country without
documentation who have U.S. citizen children, told the court his clients live
in “daily fear that they will be separated from their families and
detained or removed from their homes.”

On the day
the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case, the plight of families was
visible with many gathered in front of the court hours before the arguments
began carrying placards saying: “Fight for families,” and “Love
your neighbor” while a mariachi band played alongside them.

Two months later when the court
issued its opinion, a small crowd stood on the steps with placards saying:
“The fight continues” and “Keep families together.” One
speaker emphasized that supporters of the president’s plan should not go home
sad but should be prepared to vote on the issue in November.

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Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.


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