Immigration rights activists were disappointed Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to reconsider President Barack Obama’s 2014 plan to expand deferred action programs for undocumented immigrant parents and children.
In June, the Supreme Court announced a 4-4 tie on the challenge to the expansion of Obama’s deferred action programs. The tie continues the hold on the programs that would have potentially shielded millions of undocumented immigrant parents and children from deportation.
“I think it’s very disappointing, and it’s really disappointing for the 4 million undocumented parents who are left unprotected,” said Casa Latina Executive Director Marcos Martinez. “We had really hoped the Supreme Court would have taken into consideration and offered protection to the parents of children who are already here.”
Seattle-based OneAmerica Executive Director Rich Stolz said in a prepared statement that families “must continue to live in fear of having their families torn apart.”
“The continued lack of action by the Supreme Court significantly raises the stakes on the outcome of the 2016 Presidential elections, as millions of immigrant families now know that their futures are tied to the actions of the next President of the United States,” Stolz said.
Martinez also said the focus is now on the upcoming November election and future elections that will affect the makeup of Congress, which can take action on immigration.
“It’s really important for people to be engaged and participate and pay attention beyond election day,” Martinez said.
Vox reported in June that up to 4.5 million people would have benefited from the programs.
The case does not affect those covered by Obama’s 2012 action on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, which applies to some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
The case affects those who would have been covered under the 2014 expansion of DACA and the launch of another program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, known as DAPA, which applies to undocumented immigrants with minor children who are citizens or permanent residents.
The programs would have temporarily shielded undocumented immigrants who pass a background check and would give successful applicants a Social Security number and permission to work.
Immigration advocates have said that the deferred action programs gave families “a glimmer of hope,” though they pointed out that the programs fell short of a path of a green card.
The Supreme Court is one justice short of a tie-breaker after Congress declined to consider Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.
Information from the Seattle Globalist archives was used in this report.