The 4-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to let a lower court decision stand which prevents President Obama from using executive action to stop deportation of childhood arrivals and undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children is yet another blow.
It is tough to be an immigration activist, with every hand in the official government with the exception of Obama against you. It is a movement crying out for a victory, somewhere, somehow.
But do not lose faith. The composition of the power echelon in American politics may be about to change.
Obama’s intent was to allow immigration authorities to search out criminals and felons among the undocumented and focus on them, but that was far too sensible for the Republican right.
Who would you rather the authorities pursued, a family working day and night for their American Dream or some drug dealing thug?
Read more: Why deporting this Irishman makes no sense
While not unexpected, the Supreme Court ruling throws into sharp relief the key role the next president will have in shaping the court in which there is already one vacancy with the passing of Judge Antonin Scalia, the hero of the right.
This is the oldest Supreme Court on record, and Clarence Thomas is also said to be ready to depart after the upcoming election. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is in her eighties, Judge Anthony Kennedy in his late seventies, and it is not impossible to see up to three vacancies being filled during the next president’s term.
While people focus on the presidency, the country is equally at least shaped by the Supreme Court and by the Senate and House.
Three of those are in Republican hands. All have much influence on legislation so it is hardly surprising that the immigration initiative by the president failed.
All of which points to the crucial importance of the November election. The presidency and the Supreme Court are certainly up for decision, the Senate is thought very likely to be in play, and some optimistic Democrats are talking about the House even where the Republicans have a large majority.
Immigration has been a highly charged issue to say the least in this Congress, especially on the right, and it is worth remembering it was with inflammatory comments on immigration and Mexican rapists that Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign.
The biggest cheers at his rallies still come when he leads the chant “Build the Wall,” referring to a perfectly ridiculous proposal to build a 2,000 mile wall along the Mexican border at a cost north of $20 billion.
Trump ran hard on this in the GOP primaries, easily outflanking Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio who had much less inflammatory proposals.
Given that Hillary Clinton appears to be forging ahead in the race for the White House, there seems every likelihood that the next administration will be able to effect immigration changes in helpful ways and, who knows, finally slay the monster of opposition to immigration reform.
But there are still just over four months to the election (though only 100 days to early voting in several states), and Trump can certainly make a comeback, or in an Armageddon situation be replaced on the ticket at the convention as he continues to fall away (notice how quiet Ted Cruz has been?)
It is one more reason to ensure a Democratic victory when it comes to immigration matters. Clinton certainly has the knowledge and insight to make a plan work.
Trump offers bonfire of the vanities, burning every bridge to other communities in the fake name of making America safer.
Add immigration to the list then of vital issues in November -- and don’t count any chickens. As the Obama legal setback shows, there is many a slip between cup and lip.