Obama immigration expansion blocked by US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court stopped a controversial immigration expansion plan ordered by the president nearly two years ago. Texas and 26 other states - challenged the program - claiming: the president's action - exceeded his authority.

Long before the border security surge began along the Rio Grande, the journey into Texas for undocumented immigrants was a risky venture. Rudy DeNova-Jaimes said his parents crossed shortly before he was born. Their journey to citizenship - in a way - he says was just as difficult.

"There has got to be a better way, like I said the government and the people of American need to get together and find a more fair and easy process for them,” said DeNova-Jaimes.

Thursday, Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the Obama administration to bypass congressional gridlock regarding immigration reform. The 4 to 4 vote set no national precedent - but left the president disappointed.

"For more than two decades now, our immigration system, everybody acknowledges, has been broken.  And the fact that the Supreme Court wasn't able to issue a decision today doesn't just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be,” said President Obama.

In November of 2014, the Obama Administration expanded protection for undocumented immigrants who had children born in the U.S. The program was to hold off deportations and provide work permits.

Governor Greg Abbott, in a statement Thursday, said the Presidents' executive order, "...was an unauthorized abuse of presidential power that trampled the Constitution."

Abbott went on to state that the President “is not a king who can unilaterally change and write immigration laws."

The ruling prevents the removal of the age cap for children brought across the border.  Before the executive order - individuals qualified only if they were born before June of 1981. It’s estimated in Texas the expansion would have benefited about 33,000 people who were once child immigrants. In regards to the other part of the order, nearly 600,000 undocumented immigrants in Texas were identified as being eligible for the parental protection.

The ruling may not be a total roadblock, but more like an unwelcome detour.  Several top immigration attorneys in Austin said they were disappointed but not discouraged.

"The system is already broken,” said Immigration attorney Thomas Esparza.

Esparza’ s strategy seems to be to load up an already overloaded court system.  He currently has 50 clients scheduled for immigrations hearings that will not be held for another 3 years. With the process continuing to grind at a snail’s pace, Esparza is advising his clients to stay calm.

" I have people coming to me, saying please get me put into deportation proceedings because they want that work permit, they know it’s going to take years, they don’t care if it’s going to take years for them to be deported, they just want to be legal during that period of time,” said Esparza.

No one is expecting the ruling to trigger any mass mid-night immigration raids, or any type of major reform before the first of the year.

"I think it’s highly unlikely it will be resolved in the courts before we have the election in November,” said  Bill Beardall with the Equal Justice Center.

The legal team at the center is not closing shop, only shifting its focus.

" We are now going to double down on our efforts to make the original DACA program and its benefits available to young undocumented students and graduates throughout Texas and especially here in Central Texas,” Beardall.

So far in Texas a little more than 117,000 have been granted protection under DACA.  It’s estimated about 37,000 have not yet been processed.
 

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