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Colorado Immigrants Plan Next Steps After Supreme Court Ruling

Members of Colorado's immigrant community have denounced the U.S. Supreme Court's tie vote on Thursday as another setback to immigration reform. (FireAtDusk/iStockphoto)
Members of Colorado's immigrant community have denounced the U.S. Supreme Court's tie vote on Thursday as another setback to immigration reform. (FireAtDusk/iStockphoto)
June 24, 2016

DENVER -- Members of Colorado's immigrant community gathered on Thursday afternoon to denounce the U.S. Supreme Court's new ruling on immigration policy.

The 4-4 tie vote allows an appeals-court decision to stand, blocking President Obama's executive actions on immigration. The president's "deferred action" plan offered temporary protection to families with mixed immigration status and some people who arrived as children.

Oscar Juarez-Luna, communications coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, said the decision affects more than 80,000 Coloradans.

"Hearing the decision, it was definitely gut-wrenching," he said, "and it was something that our community was definitely not mentally prepared for, because we were always focused and hoping that the Supreme Court would be on the side of families."

A federal appeals court had ruled that the president's actions exceeded his legal authority. The coalition and other groups have said they will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform, including plans for a massive voter-outreach initiative this fall.

Juarez-Luna noted that the decision is all the more frustrating because the executive actions were modeled on a program already in place. He said he's personally benefited from the program and is worried for people such as his brother, who remain on hold.

"It allowed me to professionally develop myself, continue my school education," he said. "My brother was someone who qualified for this program. His goals were always to have a better job and to contribute even more to the economy."

The tie vote in the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't set a legal precedent, but it effectively prevents any executive action to protect millions from deportation for the remainder of the president's term in office. Obama took executive action only after years of inaction by Congress, Juarez-Luna said, adding that he hopes the high court decision motivates backers of comprehensive immigration reform to head to the polls.

"To get a pathway to citizenship, we have to be more consistent on getting people out to vote," he said. "We have to be more consistent in educating the people, and we need to be more consistent in registering people, so that they can elect people that are pro-immigrant."

The coalition has vowed to continue working with all levels of government to keep families together and end deportations. Vigils are planned for 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at the state Supreme Court building in Denver and at the History Museum on North Union Avenue in Pueblo.

The Supreme Court's decision is online at scotusblog.com.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO