Obama's Immigration Legacy In The Hands Of The US Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday for a case to determine whether President Obama's executive order in 2014 related to undocumented immigrants violated the U.S. Constitution. The actions were held up after several states sued over the decision and a federal court ruled against Obama.

The Obama administration's actions have been a key talking point in the 2016 presidential election campaign, and the Supreme Court's decision will ultimately decide the immigration legacy left by Barack Obama.

What Obama did

With Congress failing to pass legislation to deal with the illegal alien situation facing the country, Obama put his own plan into action using his power of executive order. As CNN explained, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DAPA and DACA) were announced by the Obama administration in November 2014.

They were meant to cover 4.3 million people in America who were either parents of someone born in the United States and those who were already lawful residents. The program would also protect those who arrived in the United States as children. The qualified undocumented workers would be eligible to apply for work permits and avoid the threat of deportation.

How it was held up

After President Obama announced his plan of action, it met with some resistance. His plan was in response to a Congress that had repeatedly refused to work with him. A total of 26 states sued over the actions, claiming that Obama did not have the constitutional right to implement any of the laws.

The case was taken to a federal court, who agreed that Obama's actions were unconstitutional. Because of that decision, the plans Obama had put in place have been paused.

The U.S. Supreme Court

The Obama administration appealed the federal court's ruling. In January, the United States Supreme Court agreed to rule on the case. As noted by the Los Angeles Times, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for the case on Monday.

The Supreme Court has made it clear that there is at least one thing they'll be looking at that the lower courts did not. For Obama's actions to be unconstitutional, they must conflict with his duty as POTUS to execute laws put in place by Congress.

How the Obama Administration can win

If the Supreme Court decides that Obama's executive order of 2014 wasn't unconstitutional as the states claim, then the plans will be allowed to move forward.

Additionally, the Obama administration may be able to prove that the states don't have the legal right to bring the case at all. If the justices are persuaded by that argument, the program will be allowed to move forward as if the states never sued in the first place.

How it impacts the election

Since the U.S. Supreme Court isn't likely to reach a decision until June, the unresolved issue will remain relevant to all presidential hopefuls. An overhaul of our immigration system has been an integral part of every debate to decide the next President of the United States. Most obviously, Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz support mass deportation.

Of course, even if the Supreme Court sides with the administration and Obama's plans go into action beginning June, the executive order can be modified, nullified, or expanded by whoever takes Obama's place in the White House.

[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]