Following the Supreme Court’s announcement Thursday that it deadlocked on a case that would lift a block on President Obama’s immigration plan, Bay Area politicians and attorneys are vowing to ratchet up their immigrant rights efforts ahead of the November general election.
The case, United States v. Texas, was brought before the court after the president used executive action to implement "Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents," nicknamed DAPA for short. Thursday's ruling also impedes Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has been dubbed DACA
DAPA, which would have temporarily allowed undocumented immigrants to work legally, give greater protections to minors in the country and shield millions from deportation, was tied with a 4-4 deadlock, ultimately leaving a previous block in place from the appeals court. The ruling is likely to put a strain on what the president had hoped would be one of his administration's legacies. In a news conference Thursday, he called the tie "heartbreaking."
In San Francisco, a sanctuary city that has policies in place to protect immigrants from being prosecuted solely for being undocumented, the Supreme Court's tie was also met with disappointment.
Mayor Ed Lee called the decision a "setback", and suggested that the federal policies on immigration were not a reflection of a modern society.
"That’s why we’re sanctuary city in San Francisco, because sometimes federal policies have not been modern," he said. "I think this is why the current president and the new president will struggle with reforming immigration policies."
Leaders from The San Francisco LGBT Center also released statements scolding the court for the deadlock's repercussions on families living in the U.S, calling DAPA "necessary."
"The court's inaction leaves thousands of immigrant families in legal limbo and in constant fear of deportation," said Alberto R. Lammers, the director of communications at the center.
Meanwhile, immigration rights attorneys are vowing to fight back against what they have described as a sharp blow.
Attorney Mark Silverman has said that he will rally harder to mobilize people to vote in the 2016 general election, the impact of which on immigration cannot be understated. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has taken notoriously hard line on immigration, using the premise of building a wall and enforcing a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the U.S. as his central -- and most controversial -- platforms.
Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has said that the system does need reform but has characterized Donald Trump's remarks as racist and irresponsible. She has aligned herself with Obama's plans and says she plans to take them a step further.
But the issue is not just political fodder, says Silverman.
"Probably hundreds of thousands in the Bay Area were hopeful that they would be able to have protection against deportation, have a work permit and be able to live together as families with more security," Silverman said. "So that's very disappointing."
The case will still work its way through the lower courts in Texas, where the state's governor has been one of the plan's most ardent critics.
"The action taken by the president was an unauthorized abuse of presidential power that trampled the Constitution, and the Supreme Court rightly denied the President the ability to grant amnesty contrary to immigration laws," Governor Greg Abbott said. "Today's ruling is also a victory for all law-abiding Americans—including the millions of immigrants who came to America following the rule of law."
The case is likely to make its way back to the US Supreme Court after the seating of a ninth justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia.