The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear a legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s 2014 changes to the United States immigration rules.
In 2014, President Obama created new guidelines and procedures for the Departments of Homeland Security, Labor and Justice that would prevent about 5 million illegal immigrants from being deported.
The new program, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), would allow parents of lawful permanent residents or of legal citizens to apply to a program that would give them work permits and prevent them from being deported.
According to CBS News, applicants would be able to get a three-year work permit if they could pass a background check, submit biometric data, register with the government, and show that they are eligible for the program.
CBS News reported President Obama’s comments regarding the issue.
“I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President… that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just. The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every single Democratic president for the past half century.”
Republicans criticized Obama’s changes to the system. John Boehner, Speaker of the House at the time, spoke on the issue as well.
“By ignoring the will of the American people, President Obama has cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left.”
The New York Times reported that a lawsuit was quickly filed by a coalition of 26 states accusing President Obama of abusing the power of his office by sidestepping Congress and ignoring federal procedures for changing rules.
In February, 2015, the program was blocked from taking place by Federal Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who entered a preliminary injunction. The government filed an appeal, but the initiative was upheld in November by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The administration promptly filed an appeal, asking the Supreme Court to review the case quickly, reports CBS News. The appeal has three main points: the states do not have the right to challenge policy in federal court, the administration followed correct procedure, and the government has broad discretion in the immigration area.
The Supreme Court Justices gave no reasons as to why they agreed to hear the case, United States v. Texas, No. 15-674. It looks like the case will be argued in April and decided by the end of June.
The justices broadened the scope of the case. They asked the two sides to address another, fundamental question: whether the administration’s plan violates the constitutional command that the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
The New York Times reports that the states acknowledged in their written arguments before the court that the president does have wide authority regarding immigration matters. They stated that “the executive does have enforcement discretion to forbear from removing aliens on an individual basis.”
However, their problem is the overall grant of “lawful presence” to millions of illegal immigrants, which would then be entitled to various benefits under the law.
Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. responded, saying that “lawful presence” is just what always follows when a decision is made not to deport someone. Besides, the effects of allowing immigrants be lawfully present were beneficial.
The question of whether the states have had enough “direct and concrete” injury to give them standing to sue is the threshold question so far of the briefing. It will play a large role in the case as the Supreme Court reviews the challenge to Obama’s immigration orders.
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