U.S. Supreme Court Was Divided in Deciding Immigration Overhaul Case
Apr 19, 2016 04:20 AM EDT
President Obama's plan to overhaul the U.S. immigration system is in trouble. The U.S. Supreme Court was divided over his 2014's presidential executive decision which bypass the Congress. The case was brought by 26 states challenging his decision.
Texas and other states is challenging President Obama's effort to allow millions of undocumented immigrants to remain in the country using his executive decision. In a last year's previous legal battle, a lower court rulings blocked president's decision and brought the program to a halt in waiting for the Supreme Court's decision .
Reuters reported that eight judges, four conservative and four liberals were divided along ideological lines during 90 minutes of argument. The 4-4 decision is a grim defeat for Obama's plan to alter the U.S. immigration policy, as the lower court decision will take effect.
Obama's administration must win at least one conservative judge, which had failed to do so. As all conservative judges sounded skeptical over Obama's decision, the other four liberal judges supported the decision. One conservative judge, Justice Anthony Kennedy, expressed his concern that president Obama exceeded his authority by issuing immigration policy through his executive branch which bypass the Congress.
"It's as if the president is setting the policy and the Congress is executing it. That's just upside down," Kennedy said.
New York Times reported that government lawyer, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., opened the arguments with a vigorous defense of Mr. Obama's authority to set priorities for immigration enforcement. However, Chief Justice John Roberts challenged his arguments quickly, "Could the president grant deferred removal to every unlawfully present alien in the United States right now?"
Verrilli then said about the presence of statutory constraints that would prevent the president from doing so. He also argued that State of Texas had not suffered direct and concrete injury that gave it standing to sue, in which Chief Justice Roberts suggested the federal government to sue Texas instantly.
Currently, there are 11 million of undocumented migrants living in the U.S. NBC News reported that the administration argues it's impossible to deport everyone who's here illegally. The president argued the policy is based on priority setting to concentrate on criminals and terrorists, while delaying deportation for others who have established ties to the United States.
During the revealing of the plan, President Obama said that his policy did not offer permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants. The policy only provided three years extension to any deportation effort for those qualified. The government argued that similar treatment had been given to undocumented Cubans after the Castro revolution, undocumented spouses and children of legal immigrants two decades ago, and foreign students affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Nevertheless, the president's effort to keep millions of undocumented immigrants is now facing legal problem. As the U.S. Supreme Court had a 4-4 decision which will give a lower court order that block the policy to be in place.