What the Supreme Court's tie on Obama's immigration plan means for MN


It's not a great day for President Barack Obama after the U.S. Supreme Court split 4-4 on a ruling over the president's authority to pass immigration reform.

Obama first introduced his plan two years ago to try to bypass deadlock in the U.S. Congress hoping to open a path for unauthorized immigrants to legally stay in the U.S.

But there were questions about whether or not the president was overstepping his executive authority by enacting the plan.

It went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which finally ruled on it Thursday.

With only eight judges however, things ended in a tie – meaning his plan is going nowhere for now.

This means the nation's nearly 5 million unauthorized immigrants who would have been helped by the plan are still at risk of deportation, and ineligible for work permits, according to the New York Times.

Here's the simple version of what went down.

What was Obama's plan?

The idea was that unauthorized immigrants who pass a background check; have been in the U.S. for at least five years; and have children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, would be eligible for this program.

They could then pay to apply for a work permit and if accepted, begin paying taxes.

How it got stopped

In late 2015, Texas led a group of 26 states in a lawsuit against the president claiming he was overstepping his authority by bypassing Congress, according to the Huffington Post. Lower courts blocked Obama's action – which is what led to the Supreme Court weighing in with the 4-4 tie Thursday.

Why a tie?

Ever since Justice Antonin Scalia died in February there has been an opening on the Supreme Court, leaving eight justices divided equally between liberal and conservative ideologies.

When there is a tie, the Supreme Court's decision is essentially moot, and it reverts to the most recent decision – in this case, the block by the lower courts.

The president has tried to appoint a new justice, but that has also been blocked by Senate Republicans, who say he shouldn't be the decision-maker for the future since his term is almost over.

What this means for Minnesota

Minnesota hosts about 81,000 unauthorized immigrants. Approximately 27,000 have been in the U.S. since 2010 and are mostly parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Had the policy passed, these 27,000 immigrants would have been protected from deportations and possibly offered work permits. This executive action would follow up on a previous policy that Obama implemented in 2012 for children (also to the chagrin of the GOP).

Is the plan totally dead?

Not quite.

While Obama's plan was stopped in its tracks, there is a chance that if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, she could restart the process. However, without a new justice to fill the open seat, things would presumably end in a stalemate once again.

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