Georgians are reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court 4-4 deadlock on immigration, which leaves in place a lower court decision stopping President Obama’s executive actions.
About 140,000 people in Georgia could have been temporarily shielded from deportation under the president’s program, according to estimates by the Pew Research Center.
Georgia was part of a 26-state lawsuit against the Obama administration over the president’s deferred action programs for parents of U.S. citizen children and green-card holders. The actions would have also expanded a deferred action program for people who were brought to the country illegally as children.
“The Supreme Court’s action today leaves in place a decision affirming that President Obama cannot evade the Constitution,” said Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens in a statement. “Our nation’s laws, the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches, and the Constitution, must be followed.”
Both of Georgia’s U.S. Senators also issued statements in favor of the court’s decision.
“The outcome of today’s ruling upholds the rule of law and prevents an unprecedented executive overreach. It also demonstrates why it is incredibly important for the next president to appoint, and the Senate to confirm, judges who will respect the Constitution and the rule of law and who can be trusted to reject future abuses of executive power,” said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson in a statement.
“I am proud that Georgia joined a majority of states to stand up against President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty,” said U.S. Sen. David Perdue in a statement. “There are real national security risks associated with illegal immigration, which is why we must first secure our border and restore the rule of law in our country,
Those working within Georgia’s immigrant community, however, expressed disappointment.
“Within the community, there's a lot of fear and distrust and just a general feeling of desperation,” said Jessica Daman, director of immigration services at the Latin American Association. She said the nonprofit organization had been preparing to help clients to apply for the deferred action programs if the Supreme Court ruled in their favor.
Marie*, whose parents who live in the Atlanta-area could have been eligible because they have a U.S. citizen child, said the decision means her family still lives in fear.
“That means that there is no advancement as far solutions for our family. So my mom was particularly devastated because she was hoping something would come out from this,” she said.
The city of Atlanta had supported the president’s plans, and Mayor Kasim Reed said he was “disappointed” in the U.S. Supreme Court's outcome.
“Today’s decisions by the Supreme Court fails to recognize that our immigrant community is essential to building the Atlanta and America of the future and creates an unnecessary barrier to prosperity for all,” Reed said in a statement.
“To the thousands of hard-working Atlanta families that are negatively impacted by this decision, know that the city of Atlanta is a welcoming city and will resist the plagues of fear and division that try to divide us. We will continue our support for immigration relief and for the security of your families," Reed continued.
*Marie's last name has been omitted out of concern for her parents’ legal status.