AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Now let's look at the case where the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked. It's a serious setback to President Obama's immigration reform plan and leaves in place the appeals court ruling which blocked the president. His plan would have allowed up to five million unauthorized immigrants the right to work and spared them from deportation. NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: President Obama's program would have shielded nearly half the unauthorized immigrants in this country, especially the parents of children who are citizens, like Maria Hernandez (ph) who immigrated illegally to San Francisco in 1993 and has been cleaning houses ever since. She's got three daughters. The oldest is in college. All three are American citizens. Hernandez says the president's program would have protected her from abusive employers.
MARIA HERNANDEZ: (Through interpreter) It would have made my life easier to have a work permit here, to not be exploited on the job - right? - and not just for me but for my community. We wouldn't have to think about when they're going to separate us from our family.
GOODWYN: The stories are as varied as the millions of unauthorized immigrants. Take Ezzie Dominguez's story. She was born in Mexico to an American father and Mexican mother. The family immigrated to the U.S. in 1993. But the man she's married to is undocumented, and they live with their son in Denver.
But because of a mistake on her husband's citizenship application, he's now subject to deportation. Their son is an American citizen. She was hoping the president's plan would have taken deportation off the table.
EZZIE DOMINGUEZ: It is just kind of being, like, in a limbo. It's frustration. I think right now I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm confused. I was looking up to the Supreme Court, you know - them being the Supreme Court, that you would think that they would make the just decision, that they would decide to stand on the side of love by family.
GOODWYN: Dominguez says breaking up the family's not an option and that if her husband is deported, they'd all go together. But the prospect fills her with anxiety. Frustrated and angry, she's become active in the Hispanic community in Denver, advocating for immigration reform. She blames the Supreme Court for killing their hopes.
DOMINGUEZ: This is the legacy that they are leaving our children. And they are growing up, and they will remember. And some of these children are on the age where they will start legally voting. And I hope one day my son can vote, and he can vote them out of office.
GOODWYN: While of course the justices are protected from the political consequences of their decisions or lack of decision, as the case may be, and can't be voted out, the court's eventual makeup certainly is not free from politics. But that works both ways.
For the 26 mostly Republican-dominated states which sued to block Obama's program, the court's announcement marks a day of triumph, putting an overreaching president in his rightful place. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.