Two years ago, President Barack Obama appeared confident in his work around approach to an overhaul of the nation’s stymied immigration policy. Using his executive authority, he implemented the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability Plan or DAPA.
DAPA provided temporary status to millions of undocumented immigrants. The president’s action shielded them from the threat of deportation and also allowed them to apply for work permits. The president, with backing from the Justice Department, believed his move was not only in alignment with existing laws, rulings, and precedents; but, also followed fairly close to policy actions taken by previous presidents including many Republican presidents.
As might be expected, at least twenty-six Republican led states filed suit against the DAPA order and claimed the president had over-stepped his legal authority. Lower courts ruled in favor of the states; but, the Obama Administration remained fairly confident DAPA would prevail when it reached the Supreme Court.
However, on Friday, the Supreme Court’s decision was split four to four and without a ninth justice to break the deadlock, the lower court ruling prevailed by default. Now, DAPA is on indefinite hold until such time a ninth justice is appointed and the case can be brought to the nation’s highest court for reconsideration or until congress acts to pass a bi-partisan immigration bill. To date, these appear as the only viable options.
With Congress locked in bitter partisan disagreement on almost everything, there is no real hope for action on confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia who died suddenly and unexpectedly in February; nor is there any hope the current Congress will act on bi-partisan immigration legislation.