Supreme Court refuses a second look at Obama immigration plan

Obama's DAPA programme promised to lift the threat of deportation from 4 million undocumented immigrants - now, the task of immigration reform falls to the next president

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The Independent Online

The US Supreme Court has refused to reconsider President Barack Obama’s plan to lift the threat of deportation from more than 4 million undocumented immigrants, after having previously blocked its implementation.

The eight-member court, which had stymied Mr Obama’s proposed overhaul of America’s immigration system with a tied 4-4 vote in June, said in a brief order on Monday that it would not look again at the case after a ninth Justice is confirmed to break the deadlock.

Mr Obama unveiled his executive action plan, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), in November 2014, after the failure of the Republican-led Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

But 26 states sued to prevent the programme being implemented, claiming the President had overstepped his executive authority. A US District Court judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction in February 2015, which prevented the plan taking effect nationwide.

That decision was upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals before reaching the Supreme Court, where the 4-4 tie left the injunction in place, scuppering the Obama administration’s most ambitious attempt to reform immigration policy.

In July, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to assess the case again after a new, ninth Justice is appointed, but to no avail. The court has been evenly split between conservatives and liberals or moderates since the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Mr Obama nominated federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to take Scalia’s seat, but Republican Senators have refused to hold hearings on any potential replacement until after Mr Obama leaves office.

Today's ruling was welcomed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who told USA Today that it represented “the latest setback to the president’s attempt to expand executive power and another victory for those who believe in the Constitution’s separation of powers and the rule of law.”

The task of enacting comprehensive immigration reform now falls to the next administration. Hillary Clinton has said she will introduce a revised version of Mr Obama’s programme. Donald Trump, by contrast, has said he will step up deportations.