Forward Quotes ZOA’s Klein on Supreme Court Immigration Ruling
ZOA in the news
June 27, 2016

Uncertainty will continue to hound millions of immigrant families after the Supreme Court failed Thursday to reach a decision on the legality of President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration, pro-immigrant Jewish groups say.

Texas, along with 25 other states, challenged Obama’s 2014 immigration policy deferring deportation for certain undocumented immigrants, saying it violated the Constitution’s separation of powers allowing only Congress to make laws. The Supreme Court, which has had a vacant seat since Justice Antonin Scalia died early this year, tied with a 4-4 decision.

Immigrants in the U.S. deserve the chance to live and work without fear, said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Jewish social justice group Bend the Arc. While a deadlocked Supreme Court may have failed to provide relief to immigrant families, Bend the Arc will continue to fight against deportations, she said.

“Our immigration system has crumbled to the point of cruelty, forcing millions of people to live in fear of detention, deportation, discrimination, and separation from their loved ones,” Cotler said in a statement. “The only way to fundamentally reform our broken immigration system so it reflects our American values…is to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

“We are grateful for the separation of powers and grateful the court upheld [the lower ruling],” Klein said.

Melanie Nezer, vice president for policy and advocacy at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, told the Forward that Thursday’s ruling not only hurt undocumented immigrants and their families, but refugees and asylum-seekers as well.

“The population that would have benefitted from these programs include asylum-seekers who are struggling with the significant barriers to getting asylum,” Nezer said. “Many of them will now have to face years of uncertainty while they pursue these claims when they could have had a clear way forward.”

Nezer said HIAS has been supportive of the president’s immigration policy.

Not all Jewish groups support the president’s actions, however.

Though Morton Klein, the national president of the Zionist Organization of America and himself a German immigrant, told the Forward his organization has great respect for legal immigration, it is deeply troubling that the president tried to illegally intervene in Congress’s lawmaking power.

“We are grateful for the separation of powers and grateful the court upheld [the lower ruling],” Klein said.

He added that it was very concerning that four of the justices “ruled against what almost every scholar knows is a right reserved for Congress.”

In 2014, Obama ordered Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to implement Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, a new immigration policy that would allow undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or residents to avoid deportation and legally work in the U.S. Obama also issued an expansion of an earlier policy that allows undocumented children who entered the country before the age of 16 to avoid deportation.

Though the Supreme Court’s ruling blocks Obama’s latest policy, it leaves the administration’s earlier policy on children in place.

“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,” Obama said Thursday following the ruling.

This article was published by the Forward and may be found here.

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