In 2014, President Obama ordered almost five million illegal immigrants be allowed to work legally in the United States.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court disagreed. In a 4-to-4 decision, the justices let stand a lower court ruling that Mr. Obama overstepped his authority. The decision freezes the president’s actions for the rest of his term, leaving the future of the program – and millions of undocumented workers – in limbo.
Hillary Clinton, who embraced the president’s executive action programs, said she would expand them. The court’s actions could complicate her ability to do so if she is elected president.
President Obama resorted to executive actions in 2014 after years of fighting to get Congress to act. In 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration overhaul that the White House said the president could support.
House Republicans blocked any consideration of the legislation and accused the Senate and President Obama of supporting amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States.
For most of his president, Barack Obama said he did not have the power to act unilaterally. He told Hispanic activists that he could not use his other programs as a model to expand similar protections to a large pool of illegal immigrants.
“If we start broadening that, then essentially I’ll be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally,” Mr. Obama told Jose Diaz-Balart in an interview in September 2013, after it was clear that House Republicans were blocking the Senate’s immigration measure. “So that’s not an option.”