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A mother and daughter in Los Angeles react after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a split ruling June 23 blocking President Barack Obama’s executive actions to temporarily stop deportations.

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Undocumented immigrants remain in limbo after Supreme Court deadlocks
July 12th, 2016
By Catholic News Service

Archdiocese of San Francisco Catholic Charities teamed up with community organizers to inform undocumented immigrants and their families and friends about what the U.S. Supreme Court tie vote on immigration means to them.

Two meetings were held at St. Peter Church in San Francisco and at St. Anthony of Padua in Menlo Park shortly after the June 23 tie vote by the Supreme Court that blocked the Obama administration’s plan to temporarily protect more than 4 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation.

The court’s 4-4 vote leaves in place a lower court injunction blocking the administration’s immigration policy with the one-page opinion stating: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.”

Catholic News Service reported that legal experts have called it an ambiguous and confusing political and legal decision that leaves many in a state of limbo. It also puts a lot of attention on the vacant Supreme Court seat that may determine how the case is decided in an appeal.

California Catholic Conference president Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento said the tie decision throws the issue back to Congress. “It is time for our elected representatives to bring reason back into this urgent agenda, to seize the opportunity to legislate for what makes sense and gives strength to America – a comprehensive immigration reform bill,” Bishop Soto said in a statement.

In the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the meetings at St. Peter in San Francisco were informational, said Francisco Gonzalez, Catholic Charities program director of the immigration program in San Francisco. “It boils down to we cannot do this now. People were eager to know why and what it meant, what the future holds. And it was also a way for us to say that we have to be more vocal now. Maybe now take this setback as an incentive to fight for comprehensive immigration reform.”

Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, said the court’s decision was a “huge disappointment” and a setback, but he said the focus now needs to be on how to fix the current immigration system. “We must not lose hope that reform is possible,” he said.

In a news briefing, President Barack Obama said the country’s immigration system is broken and the Supreme Court’s inability to reach a decision set it back even further.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin praised the court’s decision for making clear that “the president is not permitted to write laws – only Congress is,” which he said was a “major victory in our fight to restore the separation of powers.”

At issue in the United States v. Texas case are Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy that were challenged by 26 states.

The case, argued before the court in April, involved Obama’s 2014 expansion of a 2012 program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, known as DAPA. The programs had been put on hold last November by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, upholding a Texas-based federal judge’s injunction against the executive actions. The original DACA program is not affected by the injunction.

The states suing the federal government claimed the president went too far and was not just putting a temporary block on deportations, but giving immigrants in the country without legal permission a “lawful presence” that enabled them to qualify for Social Security and Medicare benefits.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who defended the government, said the “pressing human concern” was to avoid breaking up families of U.S. citizen children, something echoed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, CLINIC, and at least three Catholic colleges, which joined in a brief with more than 75 education and children’s advocacy organizations.

Catholic San Francisco contributed.

From July 14, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.



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