by Walter Brasch
Compared to their inaction on other agenda items, the U.S. Senate is brilliant.
The one issue it had success with was to block President Obama's immigration plans by not allowing a hearing or a vote for the ninth Supreme Court justice.
President Obama by an executive order had allowed children born in the U.S. of undocumented parents and their parents to remain the U.S. The reasoning was that the children were born in the U.S., but the parents were still undocumented--some call it the children "anchor" babies--and by returning the parents to their native country, it would impact their children's lives.
Refusing to discuss the ninth justice left eight justices. The 4--4 vote, liberals v. conservatives, essentially defeated the President's executive order. The tie vote lets stand rulings by federal appeals courts. The vacancy was created with the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in April.
If Donald Trump were to be elected, he would nominate a right-wing justice who would undo much of President Obama's policies, tilting the Court to a 5--4 conservative; all actions would probably be supported by the Republican majority of the Senate.
If Hillary Clinton were to be elected, she would nominate a justice who would tilt the Court liberal. However, with that 5--4 Supreme Court majority and the conservative majority in the Senate, the president's action would still be blocked or reversed.
Those who would be immediately affected in Pennsylvania would be about 136,000; about 19,000 undocumented children 16 years or younger when they came to the U.S. and 32,000 parents would also be affected, according to the Migrant Policy Institute (MPI). Most of the rest are undocumented workers without children and children born in the U.S., who are legal citizens.
In New Jersey are about 510,000 undocumented individuals, about 200,000 of them children under 16 and their parents.
The President's order affects about half of the 11.3 million undocumented immigrants. About 60 percent of undocumented immigrants live in six states: California, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, and Texas. Most of all undocumented workers, 5 percent of the U,S. population, are employed and pay taxes.
The President's executive order directly affects those who have not entered the U.S. For the next seven months, those in the country would not be deported. However, the President's powers do include those who come to the U.S., and he has broad discretionary powers, all of which related to immigration would be reversed by Trump.
"In November," said the President, "Americans are going to have to make a decision about what we care about and who we are."
[Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist and a professor emeritus from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. He is the author of 20 books; his latest is Fracking America.]