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SCOTUS to hear immigration executive order case

It’s on.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will decide whether President Obama has the authority to declare that millions of illegal immigrants be allowed to remain and work in the United States without fear of deportation.

The court will probably hear the case in April, with a ruling before it adjourns in June. It provides the last chance that the administration would have to implement the program, announced by Obama in 2014, before he leaves office next January. The program would affect nearly 4 million people.

Obama’s program, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), would allow illegal immigrants in those categories to remain in the country and apply for work permits if they have been here for at least five years and have not committed felonies or repeated misdemeanors.

The administration says the program is a way for a government with limited resources to prioritize which illegal immigrants it will move first to deport.

But the executive action, taken after Congress failed to enact comprehensive immigration reform, was blocked by lower courts when Texas and 25 other Republican-led states sued to stop it.

[…]

In the administration’s petition to the court, U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said that the lower courts had blocked “a federal immigration enforcement policy of great national importance” and that they did so “in violation of established limits on the judicial power. If left undisturbed, that ruling will allow states to frustrate the federal government’s enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws.”

Verrilli said that lower-court rulings “will force millions of people — who are not removal priorities under criteria the court conceded are valid, and who are parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents — to continue to work off the books, without the option of lawful employment to provide for their families.”

See here, here, and here for some background. The NYT explains why the timeline is so important:

If the Supreme Court upholds Mr. Obama’s actions, the White House has vowed to move quickly to set up the DAPA program and begin enrolling immigrants before his successor takes over early next year. Democratic presidential candidates have said they will continue the program, but most of the Republicans in the race have vowed to dismantle it and redouble immigration enforcement.

The administration, fearing that the program could remain frozen through the balance of Mr. Obama’s presidency, had asked the court to move quickly. On that point, at least, the court agreed, and it now appears that the case will be argued in April and decided by the end of June.

To say the least, the Court has a crowded and consequential docket for its spring term. As always, we hope for the best. SCOTUSBlog, the Trib, the Chron, Think Progress, United We Dream, SEIU Texas, and Kevin Drum have more.

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