Loretta Sanchez. Courtesy photo
Loretta Sanchez. Courtesy photo

Several Orange County political leaders were disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 4-4 split Thursday on President Barack Obama’s move to expand the so-called Dream Act to some parents of youths brought to the country illegally.

The high court’s inability to reach a majority ruling means the lower court decision stands. Twenty-six states sued when Obama used his authority in November 2014 to exercise prosecutorial discretion to not deport about four million immigrants under the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, and to expand the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program.

Obama’s 2014 program echoed DAPA, the one he implemented in June 2012, that extended protection against deportation for more than a million young immigrants. It mirrored the so-called Dream Act, which failed in Congress.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, who is running for the U.S. Senate against Attorney General Kamala Harris, noted that at least the high court’s indecision does not establish precedent.

“I am deeply disappointed by Supreme Court’s abject failure to provide millions of immigrant families with clarity and guidance as their stability hangs in the balance,” Sanchez said. “It’s vital to remember that while the Supreme Court’s tied decision doesn’t set precedent and doesn’t constitute a decision on the merits, this is still a devastating blow for hard-working immigrant families. Too many families are already suffering at the hands of our dysfunctional immigration system, and now will continue to suffer.”

Obama’s programs “would have allowed many hard-working immigrant families to come out of the shadows,” Sanchez said.

The president’s orders “have commonsense enforcement priorities and follow precedents set in the last 50 years by Presidents from both parties,” Sanchez said. “This infuriating indecision displays a demeaning lack of compassion toward immigrants and their families. Immigrant families, regardless of legal status, deserve justice and dignity. It is, after all, what our country was founded on.”

Sanchez said the battle for comprehensive immigration reform will continue.

“Today’s Supreme Court announcement is a disappointment to the millions of families across our country living in uncertainty and fear of being separated,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach. “I will not let this setback weaken my commitment to advocating for comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families together and fixes our broken immigration system.”

Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen, who is running for Sanchez’s seat in Congress against former state Sen. Lou Correa, called on Obama to halt deportations.

“I call on President Obama to use his authority to immediately put a halt to deportations,” Nguyen said. “With so many people qualified for DACA and DAPA, it’s the only responsible course of action. It’s only a temporary measure, so we also need Congress to act on immigration reform, which has been on the backburner for far too long. In Congress, I’ll fight for an immigration system that keeps families together, not tears them apart.”

Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine, was pleased with the outcome.

“The President cannot write laws; only Congress can write them,” Walter said. “Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that the President’s executive actions on immigration overstep the bounds of his authority and are illegal. It is a win for the Constitution, and that means a win for the American people.”

UC Irvine law school professor Stephen Lee said the president has several options now. He could ask for a rehearing when there are nine justices on the high court again, have the case sent back to the trial court in Texas for a full hearing on the merits, or he could issue another executive action, but do it this time in a way that allows for the public to comment on it first, which wasn’t done in the 2014 executive action.

Lee said the supreme court’s split on the issue should fuel Democrats politically in the November election.

“There were already studies and reports coming out that Latinos and other immigrant communities naturalizing at a very high clip and registering to vote at a very high clip just to participate in the election, and I think that’s a response to (Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald) Trump,” Lee said.

–City News Service

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