On Thursday, the Supreme Court split 4-4 in the case United States v. Texas, effectively leaving the Fifth Circuit’s decision in place, which blocks protections for millions of immigrants. This ruling voids the safeguards granted by the Obama administration for immigrants via the implementation of two national immigration enforcement policies: Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). President Obama issued a series of executive actions on November 20, 2014, in an effort to address what he referred to as “broken immigration system” and congressional inaction on immigration. The policies would have allowed undocumented immigrants whose children were born in the United States to apply for work permits and temporary residency; as well as eliminated the age cap in the existing DACA program. This Supreme Court ruling will uphold the lower court’s preliminary injunction, but will not change the original 2012 DACA in which individuals can still apply for and renew relief options granted under this program.
As the national debate over immigration heats up during the 2016 presidential election season, this is not only a huge blow to Obama’s ambitious immigration policy, but also the 4 million people who are currently eligible for deportation. This decision was not unexpected – the oral arguments in April suggested that the court would break in a 4-4 split along party lines – and there has been no forward movement to confirm nominated Merrick Garland. And while this decision does not mean the Supreme Court has ruled on whether the President overreached executive authority with his 2014 immigration policies, it is certainly a setback for immigrants and their families.