A tie vote by the Supreme Court has blocked President Barack Obama's immigration plan that sought to shield millions living in the US illegally from deportation, the AP reports. The justices' one-sentence opinion on Thursday effectively kills the plan for the duration of Obama's presidency. A tie vote sets no national precedent but leaves in place the ruling by a federal appeals court in New Orleans, which 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.
Obama decided to move forward after Republicans won control of the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections, and the chances for an immigration overhaul, already remote, were further diminished. The states quickly went to court to block the Obama initiatives: protections for parents of children who are in the country legally and an expansion of the program that benefits people who were brought to this country as children. Their lawsuit was heard by US District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas. Hanen, who had previously criticized the administration for lax immigration enforcement, sided with the states, blocking the programs from taking effect using an obscure law. The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled for the states, and the Justice Department rushed an appeal to the high court so that it could be heard this term. (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)