“Split Court Stifles Obama on Immigration,” read the banner headline on the front of Friday’s New York Times. The Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlocked decision effectively doomed President Obama’s executive actions in 2014 to unilaterally shield some five million illegal immigrants from deportation.
The Times’ lead story by Adam Liptak and Michael Shear, “A 9-Word Ruling Erases a Shield for Millions,” was reasonably straightforward, headline aside. But the front-page “news analysis” by Shear and Trip Gabriel, “Lines Drawn for November,” immediately pounced on what it considers a golden political opportunity for Democrats in November. Immigration is the issue where the New York Times' liberal slant is most obvious, and this story and another by Julia Preston did not fail to provide it.
The Supreme Court’s immigration ruling is a defeat for President Obama but could help Hillary Clinton and the fortunes of Democratic candidates across the country.
The court on Thursday blocked Mr. Obama from moving ahead with his sweeping assertion of executive authority and will force him to leave office next year without the major progress he promised to millions of Latino immigrants living under the threat of deportation.
But even as Republicans hailed what they called a major victory, Democrats said they believed the ruling would energize a nationwide voter registration drive intended to benefit Mrs. Clinton in her presidential campaign against Donald J. Trump. Within moments of the court’s nine-word order, Democratic activists vowed to mobilize, and a president whose face was etched with disappointment acknowledged the issue now rested with voters.
The ruling could also serve as political ammunition for Mr. Trump, who has accused Mrs. Clinton of wanting to expand what the Republican presumptive nominee calls the president’s illegal “amnesty” for immigrants. Mr. Trump denounced Mexican immigrants while announcing his campaign and has vowed to build a wall on the border.
The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, described the deadlocked court ruling as a vindication of the Republican view that Mr. Obama had abused his authority in ordering immigration changes affecting as many as five million unauthorized immigrants. The speaker called it “another major victory in our fight to restore the separation of powers.”
But that optimism may not carry over to the campaign trail. Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist in Florida, one of the most competitive battleground states, predicted that the court’s ruling would help unite Hispanic voters behind Mrs. Clinton. He said she could win as much as 70 percent of Hispanic votes in the state, compared with the 60 percent Mr. Obama won in 2012.
Immigration is “sort of like a basic pass/fail” test with Hispanic voters, Mr. Schale said, adding that Hispanics are tuning out Mr. Trump because of his labeling of immigration reform as “amnesty” and his promise to deport millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally.
“Amnesty” gets the scare quote treatment, but a controversial word like “undocumented” is spared.
For Mr. Obama, the court’s ruling ends his hope that his administration would be able to carry out his executive orders allowing nearly five million illegal immigrants to “come out of the shadows” and work legally. It freezes his actions for the rest of his term, leaving the program’s future, and millions of unauthorized workers, in limbo.
Oddly enough, both the objective journalists at the Times and the pro-amnesty Obama administration are fond of the phrase “out of the shadows.”
Julia Preston, perhaps the paper’s most biased immigration-beat reporter, filed a tear-jerker, which also pointed toward Democrats capitalizing on the issue in November: “As Tears Flow and Spirits Sag, Some Look to November With Determination.”
What illegal immigrants who can’t vote are doing trying to influence an election was not a question Preston found worth probing.
Isabel Aguilar had sworn she would not cry on Thursday if the Supreme Court ruled against President Obama’s programs to give deportation protection to immigrants in the country illegally. But she did.
Once word of the decision reached supporters of the president’s programs, a defeated feeling filled the plaza outside the court. As immigrants rolled up their banners and collected their poster boards, they stopped to share hugs, comforting pats on the arm or disappointed half-smiles.
The word “illegally” appear in Preston’s story precisely once, in favor of the gentler term “undocumented.” The term “illegal immigrant” made zero appearances. A photo caption retained the politically correct tone: “Isabel Aguilar, right, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras, with her family in Owings Mills, Md. “Now we have to keep on living with this fear,” she said.”
Many of those parents were angry or sad, but also resigned, because the court’s decision left them with the same uncertainties they had before. Others put on brave faces, saying the setback would spur them to do what they could, even without legal status, to turn out voters in the November elections who would push Congress to give them a pathway to legal status.
Preston pitied the “limited” lives of those who chose to live in the United States illegally.
For undocumented parents, the court’s decision means a return to routines aimed at avoiding any brush with immigration authorities and to lives limited by a lack of Social Security numbers and working papers.
Yet another tearful anecdotes:
In New York, Carmen Salvador cried along with her two sons as they saw the news of the court decision on television in their Brooklyn apartment. Ms. Salvador, 36, came to the United States from Mexico 16 years ago. Her 12-year-old American-born son, Ruben, has only one kidney, and she worries what could happen if he needs a transplant.
A condemnatory editorial on Friday, “Impasse and Heartbreak on Immigration,”really poured on the emotion.
On Thursday morning on the Supreme Court steps a boisterous gathering of immigrant advocates and families fell silent on the news of the 4-to-4 vote. Amid the tears and hugs was a firm resolve to keep on fighting, the only option in the face of injustice.