By MIKE LUERY
Published: June 23, 2016 – 9:44 pm
Up to 5 million undocumented immigrants could be deported — or denied work permits — after the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on a case involving President Obama’s immigration plan.
The tie has the effect of reaffirming an appeals court ruling that overturned Obama’s executive action that would have spared undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Half a million Californians were immediately affected because they won’t be able to apply for work permits or medical benefits.
The decision came down on the same day that more than 1,000 immigrants from 86 different nations celebrated inside Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium as America’s newest citizens.
“This is my goal in life,” said Sheena Lacaste, a newly sworn-in U.S. citizen from the Philippines. She said she is “proud to be an American.”
But, there was no celebration from three college students who were stunned by Thursday’s Supreme Court tie. Tania Cruz came to California from El Salvador when she was 13.
“My mom just texted me and she was really sad,” Cruz said.
The court’s tie means Cruz and other students can stay in the United States, under a program known as DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. But their parents, who are undocumented immigrants, are no longer eligible for something called DAPA — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.
Now, many fear deportation.
“It’s really sad to have to be able to go back and tell my mom that she has to keep waiting,” Chico State University student Marisela Hernandez said.
Many immigrant families face a future that is filled with uncertainty.
“What’s going to happen after this?” said Lorenzo Valdovinos, a Butte College student who came to California from Mexico when he was 12. “So that’s the biggest fear you know — family separations.”
The deadlock will also have direct impact on the state’s MediCal program, which serves the lowest income Californians.
“In this case, it’s about half a million adults who will be denied very basic things like an immunization or a checkup,” said Daniel Zingale, senior vice president for the California Endowment, a privately-funded healthcare foundation.
At Sacramento’s immigration ceremony, there were mixed reactions to the Supreme Court tie. Some were sympathetic to the undocumented immigrants, but others like Camila Eonomoto, who took 15 years and mountains of paperwork to become a citizen, were critical.
“It’s just not really worth it,” Eonomoto said. “You really do need to do things the right way. You have to go through the legal process. You will feel much better. You’ll have the right to be here.”
The court’s draw has now shifted the focus from the courts to the presidential election — with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump standing as polar opposites on the issue of immigration reform.