SCOTUS Hears Challenge to Administration’s Immigration Programs

By Kenrya Rankin Apr 18, 2016

Three months after agreeing to hear the case, the Supreme Court heard arguments today (April 18) in the challenge to President Barack Obama’s immigration relief executive orders.

United States v. Texas examines the legality of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which would allow a specific set of undocumented immigrants to apply for work permits if they have lived in the United States for at least five years and have no felonies or repeated misdemeanors. President Obama announced the action in November 2014, but 26 states sued the administration for overreach of power. The petitioners argue that if states have to spend millions of dollars to create driver’s licenses for immigrants, it will endure injury.

In the case currently before the court, the justices are asked to decide if it fell within the president’s powers to enact DAPA (and an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program); if states can sue the federal government for how it enforces federal law; if DAPA and DACA are illegal because the American public wasn’t able to react to the programs before they were put into place; and if the president violated the constitution’s call that he execute federal laws “faithfully.”

If SCOTUS agrees with the states, nearly 5 million undocumented residents could be denied the right to stay in the country where they grew up or where their children are legal citizens or documented residents. Activists have pushed back against opposition to these programs, as well as current policies that break up families and place children behind bars in immigration detention centers. #FightForFamilies has trended all day on social media as they take to the steps of the Supreme Court to show support for DAPA and DACA.

Read the transcript of today’s arguments here. The court is expected to issue an opinion this summer.