President Barack Obama said Thursday that despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s tie vote, which essentially blocks his immigration plan, the millions of illegal immigrants that he sought to make legal with his executive action will remain a low priority for deportation by his administration.
“Enforcement priorities developed by my administration are not affected by this ruling. This means that the people who might have benefited from the expanded deferred action policies – long-term residents raising children who are Americans or legal residents – they will remain low priorities for enforcement. As long as you have not committed a crime, our limited immigration enforcement resources are not focused on you,” he said.
The tie vote leaves in place the ruling of the federal appeals court in New Orleans, which said the administration lacked the authority to shield up to 4 million immigrants from deportation and allow them to obtain work permits without congressional approval, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Obama said the decision “is frustrating to those who seek to grow our economy and bring a rationality to our immigration system and to allow people to come out of the shadows and lift this perpetual cloud on them.”
“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 this system back even further, it takes us further from the country we aspire to be,” the president said.
Obama said that since Congress was unable to pass commonsense comprehensive immigration reform, he was “left with little choice but to take steps within my existing authority to make our immigration system smarter, fairer, and more just.”
“Four years ago, we announced that those who are our lowest priorities for enforcement – diligent, patriotic, young Dreamers, who grew up pledging allegiance to our flag should be able to apply to work here and study here and pay their taxes here. More than 730,000 lives have been changed as a result,” he said.