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Supreme Court Tie Blocks Obama Immigration Plan

A tie vote by the Supreme Court is blocking President Barack Obama's immigration plan that sought to shield millions living in the U.S. illegally from deportation.

The justices' one-sentence opinion on Thursday effectively kills the plan for the duration of Obama's presidency.

Announced in November 2014, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, could have granted deportation relief to more than 4 million people living in the country illegally — including more than 1 million undocumented immigrants in Texas, according to The Texas Tribune.

And, immigrants would have been able to apply for renewable work permits if they have lived in the country for more than five years, pass background checks and pay fines.

A tie vote sets no national precedent but leaves in place the ruling by the lower court. In this case, the federal appeals court in New Orleans said the Obama administration lacked the authority to shield immigrants from deportation and make them eligible for work permits without approval from Congress.

Texas led 26 Republican-dominated states in challenging the program. Congressional Republicans also backed the states' lawsuit.

Michelle Tremillo, incoming executive director of the Texas Organizing Project, issued a statement, saying they would hold Republican leaders accountable in November. The organization held a press conference Thursday afternoon on the matter.

“While we are grieving, our drive to win immigration reform remains intact. Even before the decision was handed down, our members had resolved that no matter what the Supreme Court decided, we were going to continue fighting. And that is what we will do. "

President Obama's response to the ruling:

President Obama reassured millions of people not to fear immediate deportation, and he said the opinion doesn't change his administration's enforcement priorities, The Associated Press reported.

He said his administration will continue focusing its limited enforcement resources on people who have committed a crime and that deportation for long-term immigrants who aren't criminals will remain a low priority, according to the AP.

Still, Obama said the deadlock is frustrating for immigrants who want to work and contribute to the economy. He said it's "heartbreaking" for them.


In 2014, President Obama also announced expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program stopped the deportation of "dreamers," the children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. 

DACA, which was not under scrutiny in today's ruling, shielded some 1.1 million immigrants from deportation, while the expansion of that program and DAPA would have shielded some 4 million others.

Last November, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision that put DAPA and the expansion on DACA on hold, while the government awaited a trial. The government appealed that decision to Supreme Court and the eight justices could not form a majority.

The Associated Press, NPR and The Texas Tribune contributed to this report.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at