President Barack Obama said today that the Supreme Court's "heartbreaking" decision to block his immigration executive action "takes us further from the country that we aspire to be."
“We've got a very real choice that America faces right now,” Obama said. “We're going to have to decide whether we're a people who accept the cruelty of ripping children from their parents' arms, or whether we actually value families and keep them together for the sake of all of our communities.”
The court's 4-4 deadlock lets stand a lower court's injunction against an Obama administration program that would have offered more than 4 million undocumented immigrants a chance to remain in the country without fear of deportation. The case now returns to the lower court in Texas that froze the action. It is unlikely that the program will go into effect.
Obama told reporters the decision meant that he had "pushed to the limits" his executive powers on the issue and that the future of immigration policy would be up to voters electing the next president.
Though for families worried about the risk of deportation in the wake of the decision, Obama downplayed the ruling, saying it wouldn’t change the “status quo” of his administration’s current stance on enforcement.
“What we don't do is to prioritize people who have been here a long time who are otherwise law-abiding, who have roots and connections in their communities,” Obama said. “And so -- those enforcement priorities will continue.”
He slammed Republicans in Congress for not implementing comprehensive immigration reform during his time in office, as well as for their decision not to consider his nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland.
"They are allowing partisan politics to jeopardize something as fundamental as the impartiality and integrity of our judicial system," Obama said. "Americans should not let that stand."
He also used the decision to pivot to the 2016 presidential election, laying out the stark contrast between the immigration policies put forth by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
"Pretending we can deport 11 million people or build a wall without spending tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money is abetting what is really just factually incorrect," Obama said. "It's not going to work. It's not good for this country."