Dreamers are saddened but defiant following Supreme Court immigration ruling


That is how Giancarlo Tello described he felt after hearing the news of the Supreme Court’s 4-4 tie ruling on President Barack Obama's immigration plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The 26-year-old undocumented immigrant from Peru just graduated last month from Rutgers University with a degree in political science thanks in part to the exemption from deportation he received under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. The justices' one-sentence opinion on Thursday, however, effectively kills the plan for the rest of Obama's presidency.

And while Obama promised that Thursday’s ruling won’t change his administration's enforcement priorities and that DACA – and its related policy Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) – will not be affected by the ruling, that assurance has done little to ease the minds or tamper the anger of "Dreamers" like Tello.

“It’s ridiculous that a few states that think a program will have negative effects for them will ruin the policy for everyone else,” Tello told Fox News Latino. “A judge in Texas effectively wrote our country’s immigration policy.”

In this case, the federal appeals court in New Orleans said the Obama administration lacked the authority to shield up to 4 million immigrants from deportation and make them eligible for work permits without approval from Congress.

Texas led 26 Republican-dominated states in challenging the program Obama announced in November 2014. Congressional Republicans also backed the states' lawsuit.

Echoing Tello’s discontent were a host of immigrant rights groups and liberal politicians who called the lawsuit leading to the Supreme Court’s decision everything from “politically motivated” to “unacceptable.”

“I am extremely disappointed that the Supreme Court failed to reach a majority decision, resulting on a 4-4 tie,” Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement. “This politically motivated lawsuit brought forth by Republicans does nothing to address our broken immigration system and only serves to sow fear and uncertainty in homes across the country.”

Reid added: “It also attacks American families: the vast majority of families who would have qualified for DAPA and DACA include American citizens that have been part of our communities for decades. This case is a direct Republican attack on Latino families.”

A large portion of the criticism from Democratic lawmakers – and President Obama – centered around the failure of the Republican-led Senate to give the president’s choice for the Supreme Court nominee, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, a nomination hearing on Capitol Hill.

“We need to make sure that Merrick Garland gets a fair hearing,” Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said on Thursday at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference in Washington. “Today this illustrates the consequences of a broken Republican leadership.”

Despite the Supreme Court ruling, immigration activists across the country said they would continue to push forward.

“The fight isn’t over; DACA and DAPA are constitutional, common sense, and pragmatic programs that are consistent with decades of executive actions taken by past presidents on both sides of the aisle, and we will continue exploring all legal options available to ensure the well-being of our families,” César J. Blanco, the interim director of the Latino Victory Project, said in a statement.

“We are confident this case will make it back to the Supreme Court and be heard by a full panel of Justices who can issue a clear decision,” he added.

As for Tello, while he acknowledged that the Supreme Court ruling is a setback for him and other Dreamers, he said that either way DACA was only provisional and he will continue to push ahead for comprehensive immigration reform.

“Whatever was ruled out of SCOTUS was going to be a temporary measure,” he said. “We’re going to come back and continue the fight.”