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Immigrants' Advocates Upset with High Court Decision

A tied Supreme Court decision is a major setback for President Obama's immigration plans, and puts millions of mixed-immigration-status families at risk. (iStockphoto)
A tied Supreme Court decision is a major setback for President Obama's immigration plans, and puts millions of mixed-immigration-status families at risk. (iStockphoto)
June 24, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. -- Immigration-rights advocates across the country are blasting a U.S. Supreme Court decision Thursday that could doom President Obama's expanded immigration policies.

In a 4-4 tie vote, the justices allowed a lower court decision to stand that prevents the president from shielding about 4 million people from deportation. The "deferred action" plans would give temporary protections to families with mixed immigration status, and some who entered the country as children.

Catherine Tactaquin, executive director at the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said the move is a step backward for immigrant families.

"Communities really had some hope that this would at least buy some reprieve and give time for Congress, hopefully, to work through its process and take seriously the need to have immigration reform that's fair and just," she said.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, fewer than 5,000 undocumented immigrants were living in South Dakota in 2012. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley praised the Supreme Court's move, saying it will allow the state to have a voice in immigration reform.

The state is one of 25 that sued over the expanded immigration plans, which were announced two years ago. The states argued the president had overstepped his authority, but Tactaquin said the expansion was only building on the success of Obama's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

"This is just very important to immigrant communities," she said, "to stop tearing families apart, to help stabilize communities; for adult parents, an opportunity to work legally."

The expanded program was to be called the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The Supreme Court's tie vote effectively means Obama cannot take further executive action on immigration. Tactaquin said her group will be working with state and federal lawmakers to keep families together.

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

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD