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Leaders react as short-handed court puts immigrants in limbo

immigration-rallyWASHINGTON, D.C. (June 24, 2016) — In a 4-4 tie decision on Thursday, the short-handed U.S. Supreme Court announced it was deadlocked on a case brought by the State of Texas to block President Barack Obama’s immigration plan to shield an estimated five million undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to legally work in the U.S. Therefore, a lower court ruling blocking the plan will remain in place, leaving millions of families in legal limbo because Congress has failed for years to pass comprehensive immigration reform clarifying their status.

The dramatic “indecision” brought swift reactions across the nation from labor and political leaders regarding the plight of these families, presidential powers, and dysfunction in Washington, D.C., where the Republican Senate has blocked Obama from being able to appoint any Supreme Court justice in the final year of his presidency to replace the late Antonin Scalia. Here are some of those reactions (follow links to their full statements):

obama-sotu-16President Barack Obama:

(The decision is) heartbreaking for the millions of immigrants who’ve made their lives here, who’ve raised families here… This is part of the consequence of the Republican failure so far to give a fair hearing to Mr. Merrick Garland, my nominee to the Supreme Court. (That the justices couldn’t reach a decision is) a very clear reminder of why it’s so important for the Supreme Court to have a full bench.

trumka-13AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a setback for all those who have fought for more humane and rational enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws. While we are deeply disappointed by the court’s failure to reach a decision, we will redouble our organizing efforts to defeat the obstructionist, anti-immigrant forces behind this lawsuit and ensure that all working people can assert their rights on the job and in the community without fear of deportation.

This decision will further motivate a resilient community that is a vibrant and vital part of our labor movement. We continue to urge the administration to use its discretion to protect those courageous immigrant workers who are exercising their workplace and civil rights.

OneAmerica Executive Director Rich Stolz:

Our community has the strength and resilience to continue to fight for our rights. We’ll continue to fight for immigration reform an and end to unjust deportations. We’ll make sure our community has a voice this year by holding naturalization workshops, community forums and voter registration drives. We won’t give up until the promise of America – of freedom, dignity and respect – holds true for all Americans.

murray-pattySen. Patty Murray (D-WA):

Today’s Supreme Court split decision is a truly devastating blow to children and families across the country and to the American values that so many of us hold dear. By not allowing the President’s common sense reforms to be implemented, families in Washington state and around the country will be forced back into the shadows — and this is simply wrong. This ruling speaks to the urgent need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and it underscores why Republicans’ refusal to even consider filling the vacant Supreme Court seat is so damaging to families, our country, our economy and our judicial process.

delbene-suzanRep. Suzan DelBene (D-1st):

Today’s 4-4 split decision is a deeply painful reminder of the cost of our broken immigration system on families, children and communities across the country. President Obama took reasonable steps within his authority to provide temporary relief to the families being torn apart by our current system. I’m disappointed a definitive decision wasn’t made because Senate Republicans have left the Court short one justice.

I will not stop fighting until Democrats and Republicans come together and work on a comprehensive solution that reduces visa backlogs, creates an earned pathway to citizenship and keeps families together.

larsen-rickRep. Rick Larsen (D-2nd):

I am deeply disappointed by today’s decision. Our country’s immigration system should focus resources on those who pose threats to public safety not tearing families apart. It is now clearer than ever that a lasting solution to immigration must come from Congress.

newhouse-dan-15Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-4th):

The Supreme Court’s decision reflects the separation of powers principle in our Constitution that Congress writes the laws, and the President enforces those laws. The Supreme Court has spoken but today’s decision does not resolve the issue. The American people expect Congress to work together to secure our borders, adhere to the rule of law, offer a humane solution to those living in the shadows, modernize our visa system, and bolster the economy. I am committed to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all.

mcmorris-rodgers-15Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th):

Only the American people, through their elected representatives, have the power to make law — and that’s what the Supreme Court made clear today. As the President himself has said repeatedly, he does not have the authority under the Constitution to change immigration law unilaterally, and this decision sets the precedent he doesn’t have the authority to legislate on other issues either.

Commonsense, permanent solutions are needed to reform our fundamentally broken immigration system. However, these solutions must come from the American people through their representatives in Congress, not through a decree from the executive branch.

smith-adam-newRep. Adam Smith (D-9th):

I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling today resulting in a deadlock decision on the President’s Executive Actions on Immigration. Millions of U.S. citizens with undocumented parents and DREAMers will now face uncertainty in their future and may see their families torn apart. Failure on the part of Republican leadership is what forced the President to act. I call on Congress to take action and pass a permanent comprehensive immigration bill and fix our broken system. We cannot afford to wait any longer to reform our immigration system and bring relief to millions of children and families.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray:

Seattle stands with our brothers and sisters in this long fight for justice for immigrant families. And I firmly believe despite the terrible decision today, that it is a setback and we will eventually win — that justice will prevail.

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