The Supreme Court issued a split decision today on whether an immigration plan created by President Obama through an executive order was constitutional. In English: the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 and the plan, which would have prevented millions of people from facing deportation, has been blocked. That means next president will have a lot of power to decide whether to order mass deportations. This is terrifying.

SCOTUS announced they were evenly split on the immigration plan, which is actually two programs: Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The lawsuit is called United States v. Texas, because naturally Texas is leading the coalition of 27 states challenging the proposals.

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The president announced both plans in November of 2014; DAPA is meant to allow law-abiding undocumented parents of American citizens to stay in the country for an indefinite amount of time, provided they have committed no crimes for the previous five years. DACA lets people who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 apply for a two-year work permit and also exempts them from deportation. In November of this year, the famously conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked both programs from going into effect.

The split decision today means that both programs are effectively frozen. It’s a huge loss for the Obama administration, and a huge blow to immigrant families. The decision will be appealed, but the only path to actual success is if Clinton is elected. Donald Trump has promised to revoke both DAPA and DACA during his first 100 days in office.

Naturally, John McCain is really excited:

In other words, nothing less than the fate of millions of families rests in the hands of whether the American people can be trusted to keep a racist ochre Keebler Elf from stepping foot in the White House. Hillary Clinton’s campaign issued a statement to that effect, reminding people that this is why we need a full Supreme Court, and also why we need to keep Trump from being elected:

This decision is also a stark reminder of the harm Donald Trump would do to our families, our communities, and our country. Trump has pledged to repeal President Obama’s executive actions on his first day in office. He has called Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’ and ‘murderers.’ He has called for creating a deportation force” to tear 11 million people away from their families and their homes.

I believe we are stronger together. When we embrace immigrants, not denigrate them. When we build bridges, not walls. That is why, as president, I will continue to defend DAPA and DACA, and do everything possible under the law to go further to protect families. It is also why I will introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship within my first 100 days. Because when families are strong—America is strong.”

This is a pretty solid example, too, of how Bernie Sanders forced Clinton to be clear and definitive about her support for immigrant rights. In 2014, she supported deporting Central American families gathering at the U.S.-Mexico border. As late as October, she wouldn’t commit to focusing on immigration in her first 100 days; by May, she had pledged that she will.


Supporters of immigration reform gather in front of the Supreme Court, April 2016. Photo via AP

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