Hillary Clinton condemned Thursday’s Supreme Court deadlock that blocked President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, calling the decision “unacceptable.”
She added in the statement that the ruling showed “us all just how high the stakes are in this election.”
“As I have consistently said, I believe that President Obama acted well within his constitutional and legal authority in issuing the DAPA and DACA executive actions,” she said. “These are our friends and family members; neighbours and classmates; DREAMers and parents of Americans and lawful permanent residents. They enrich our communities and contribute to our economy every day. We should be doing everything possible under the law to provide them relief from the specter of deportation.”
She called the court’s decision “purely procedural” and added that it “casts no doubt on the fact that DAPA and DACA are entirely within the President’s legal authority.”
“This decision reminds us how much damage Senate Republicans are doing by refusing to consider President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court,” she said. “Our families and our country need and deserve a full bench, and Senate Republicans need to stop playing political games with our democracy and give Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and vote.”
The presumptive Democratic nominee said the ruling is a “stark reminder of the harm Donald Trump would do to our families, our communities, and our country.”
“Trump has pledged to repeal President Obama’s executive actions on his first day in office,” she said. “He has called Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’ and ‘murderers.’ He has called for creating a deportation force” to tear 11 million people away from their families and their homes.”
In a 4-4 decision, the court’s ruling in United States v. Texas enforced the prior decision of a lower court, which effectively blocks Obama’s plan to shield millions of immigrants living in the country illegally from deportation and ends the initiative through the end of his presidency.
The ninth seat on the court is vacant after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
The court heard the challenge to Obama’s signature immigration-related actions back in mid-April, in what was one of the most closely watched cases of its term.
It’s a huge blow for the Obama administration, and it raises the stakes for November’s election, as it hands off the issue to the next president.
House Speaker Paul Ryan quickly pushed out a statement after the decision was announced. The Wisconsin Republican said the decision “vindicated” Article 1 of the Constitution.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling makes the president’s executive action on immigration null and void,” he said in the statement. “The Constitution is clear: The president is not permitted to write laws – only Congress is. This is another major victory in our fight to restore the separation of powers.”
Obama’s executive actions, proposed in 2014, aimed to focus deportation efforts on criminally engaged immigrants while providing relief to those who reside in the country illegally but are otherwise law-abiding and meet certain qualifications.
Soon after, lawyers representing Texas and 25 other Republican-led states filed a suit in federal court in Brownsville, Texas. Those states claimed that the costs of issuing state identification cards to the immigrants would be a heavy burden. A US district judge sided with the states, saying they had the standing to sue the federal government. That decision was upheld in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit last year.
During the challenge, conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts, one of whose votes the Obama administration would have needed to prevail in the case, “sharply questioned” the administration’s attorney, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Kennedy said Congress, not the president, had the authority to decide which groups of immigrants could stay lawfully in the United States,” the paper reported.
“It is a legislative act, not an executive act,” Kennedy said, according to the Times.
Kennedy, a typical swing vote on the high court, seemed to side with the states’ argument, The Hill reported.
“It seems to me that’s a legislative, not an executive task,” he said. “It’s as if the president is setting the policy and the Congress is executing it … That seems upside down.”
In April, the court appeared “deadlocked” in the case.
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