— -- The Supreme Court today blocked an Obama administration policy that would have offered more than 4 million undocumented immigrants a chance to remain in the country without fear of deportation, dealing a significant blow to the president.
The justices were deadlocked on the issue 4-4, which means the benefit for undocumented immigrants is on hold as the case returns to the lower court in Texas that initially ruled against the administration’s implementing the policy.
It’s now unlikely the Obama administration program will go into effect and the fate of those living in the country illegally will wind up in the hands of Congress.
President Obama said today the Supreme Court’s decision was "frustrating" and takes immigration "further from the country we aspire to be" in a briefing at the White House following the court ruling.
"In the end, it is my belief that immigration is not something to fear," he said. "Sooner or later, immigration reform will get done."
The White House maintains that the states didn’t have the right to bring the case forward in the first place.
Texas took the lead for Republican-dominated states that challenged President Obama’s executive action announced in November 2014. The program helped those who have lived in the United States since 2010 to become citizens or lawful residents, shielding them from deportation.
When there is a 4-4 tie, it results in a one-sentence opinion that says, "Per curiam- - the judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court” and it is not a ruling based on the legal question in play.
That means the public doesn't have information about individual justices' views on either standing or substance, and future presidents are able to weigh in without a binding legal precedent.
Obama also emphasized that the ruling from the court shows the need to have a full bench on the Supreme Court. The president nominated Judge Merrick Garland in March to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but his nomination has been stalled as Republicans refuse to hold a hearing.