By Bill Parry
President Barack Obama’s controversial executive action on immigration was dealt a crushing blow Thursday by a 4-4 deadlock by the justices at the U.S. Supreme Court. The tie vote upholds a lower court’s decision to block Obama’s plan to protect up to 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.
In Jackson Heights, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country where 167 different languages are spoken within a mile of Roosevelt Avenue, there was outrage.
“Today the Supreme Court has effectively allowed one notoriously anti-immigrant judge in Texas to obstruct a program vital to our nation’s progress,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “The communities I represent — the sons and daughters and mothers and fathers — deserve better than this. Our resolve is only strengthened to continue to fight for justice for these families, who are American in all ways but their immigration status.”
The one-sentence ruling, issued without comment or dissent, sends the case back to Texas for further review, although it is unlikey the lower court that blocked the program will reverse itself. Exercising executive action, Obama went ahead with the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, which would have protected adults who had children who are American citizens, in November 2014 after Republicans repeatedly blocked immigration legislation.
U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) broke away from a 25-hour sit-in by House Democrats that advocated for stricter gun control measures to deliver a message to his constituents and another shot at Republicans in Congress.
“My district, like so many others across the country, is filled with hardworking men and women who came here in search of a better life for their children and families,” he said. “But they have been driven into the shadows of fear, when all they want is to live and work and give back to their community like everyone else. It is unconscionable that Republicans in Congress have refused to take the clear action needed for these families and for our nation.”
At City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio met with immigration advocates and elected officials saying he was “extraordinarily disappointed” by the Supreme Court’s decision.
“New York City, like so many cities across the country, is stronger when all of our residents are secure in their ability to provide for their families and contribute to their community,” de Blasio said. “That is why, with over 100 of my fellow mayors and county leaders, I have supported the president’s common sense efforts to help immigrants. Today’s decision only underscores the urgent need to enact federal immigration reform.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr