28 June, 2016
President Barack Obama is again urging the United States Congress to act on immigration.
Obama made his latest appeal after the nation's highest court failed to support his order protecting up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The Supreme Court released that order last week. The court was split on the issue, with four members agreeing with the president and four others opposed.
The ruling keeps in place a lower court decision that blocked the immigration order.
The president called the Supreme Court ruling, "heartbreaking."
"I have pushed to the limits of my executive order," he said. "We now have to have Congress act."
But congressional action seems unlikely before Obama leaves office in January.
"We know there isn't much left with this Congress," said Norm Ornstein, a specialist on U.S. politics at the American Enterprise Institute. Orenstein said the ruling is bad news for the president because he had hoped to make immigration reform an important part of his legacy.
Texas and 25 other states had challenged Obama's 2015 executive order. It not only protected five million undocumented immigrants from being expelled, but let them have work permits.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the Supreme Court did the right thing. The court, he said, "Keeps in place what we have maintained from the very start: one person, even a president, cannot unilaterally change the law."
The ruling last week is not expected to lead to mass deportations.
Obama says the Department of Homeland Security would continue its long established policy. That means moving slowly on deporting parents of children who are in the United States legally.
But those adults would not be given work permits, making it harder for them to find employment.
Businessman Donald Trump is likely to win the presidential nomination of the Republican Party. Trump has said he would deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
But Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican who lost to Trump in nominating events, said that will not happen -- even if Trump is elected. "The American people wouldn't stand for it," Rubio, a Florida senator, told CBS television.
Early in Obama's second term, the U.S. Senate approved a reform in immigration policy that had the president's support. But the House of Representatives refused to consider the bill.
The Supreme Court divided 4-4 on his executive order on immigration because it does not have a ninth justice to break ties.
The Republican-led Senate has refused to vote on Democrat Obama's choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia died in February. Obama nominated U.S. Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland in March.
Had the Senate confirmed Garland, it is likely the Supreme Court would have overturned lower court rulings blocking Obama's immigration order.
American Immigration Lawyers Association President Victor Nieblas said the Supreme Court's decision continues uncertainty for millions of undocumented immigrants. The court, he said, denied parents of United States citizens and students to seek "refuge and protection from a dysfunctional immigration system."
Roy Beck is head of a group called NumbersUSA, which wants more limits on immigration.
Beck said the Supreme Court's decision "means that immigration policy, including the power to issue work permits, still belongs to the people through their elected officials in Congress."
I'm Bruce Alpert.
Mary Alice Salinas reported on this story for VOANews. Bruce Alpert adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
deportation – n. to be removed from a country for violation of its immigration laws
challenge – v. to say or show that something may not be true, correct, or legal
maintain – v. to continue doing something or taking the same position
unilaterally – adv. acting alone
refuge – n. shelter or protection from danger or trouble
dysfunctional – adj. unable to function in a normal way