More than 220,000 immigrant New Yorkers will remain unable to benefit from President Obama’s immigration executive order, which would have protected millions of parents of U.S. citizens across the country from deportation and granted them work permits under a program known as as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.
The Supreme Court announced Thursday it deadlocked on a case challenging Obama’s order.
The 4-4 tie allows a lower court’s ruling to remain in place and block the plan. The deadlock essentially leaves the issue in the hands of the next president and Congress, and it deals a devastating blow to Obama’s immigration legacy and his promise to deliver comprehensive immigration reform.
Mayor Bill de Blasio held a rally in the rotunda of City Hall following the tie, which he described as a “huge mistake” from the court.
Flanked by dozens of immigration advocates and undocumented immigrants, de Blasio said the city would continue to do its part to assist and welcome undocumented immigrants.
“I share with them a sense of profound disappointment, in fact anger at the decision by the Supreme Court, because with the stroke of a pen, the hopes of millions have been dashed,” de Blasio said. “So many people who are just trying to achieve what so many of us have come to expect and now they see that taken away from them.”
The rally included the personal story of Raul Contreras, a deputy press secretary for de Blasio who said he benefited from the federal program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program allows immigrants who came into the country as children to receive temporary deportation protection and work permits.
“Because of DACA, I was able to find a paying part-time job and internships, including one with the mayor’s office,” Contreras said. “That internship opened up more doors, and today I am proud to work in this building and serve my fellow New Yorkers. Unfortunately, because of the Supreme Court’s ruling today, so many people will not get the same chance I had.”
Magdalena Brito, 71, who immigrated from Ecuador and lives in Brooklyn, was hoping to benefit from Obama’s DAPA program.
“I have two daughters who are citizens, four granddaughters who are also citizens, and now I’m in limbo,” Brito told POLITICO New York following the rally. “We are frustrated, unhappy, suffering, we are completely destroyed because none of us expected this.”
Commissioner Nisha Agarwal, who leads the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said the court’s deadlock also deals a financial blow to the city, which could have collected millions more in tax revenues from the plan.
“It would have meant more than $35 million dollars in income tax revenue every year for New York City, more than $82 million for New York State,” Agarwal said.
City officials said Thursday the city will continue to administer immigrant-specific services without any change, but that there will be an increased focus on making sure people are getting the right information and don’t fall victim to fraud.
“We want them to understand what is going on, because we expect that there will be bad actors out there who will put out bad information, so we really need to be working together to help them understand what is happening,” said Betsey Plum, director of Special Projects NY Immigration Coalition.
Councilman Carlos Menchaca, chair of the council’s immigration committee, said the court’s tie should turn into political action.
“In the wake of this terrible announcement, we have some work to do,” Menchaca said. “Let’s turn our anger and our sadness into political power and make that voice loud and clear.”
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is in Florida for a panel on the Puerto Rican financial crisis, called on President Obama to halt the deportation raids he has ordered in recent months.
Mark-Viverito, who is backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said she was confident Clinton’s plan to address immigration reform would take shape if she wins the White House.
“Obviously we want to see Congress do its job when it comes to the Supreme Court nominee put forth by President Obama. But if by chance that does not happen, all the more reason we know why it’s important to have a Democrat in the White House,” Mark-Viverito said during an interview on NY1. “The next president needs to be President Clinton, [she will be able] to put forth a Supreme Court Justice that will turn this decision to one that favors the executive action that has been set forth.”
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