White House Asks SCOTUS to Rule on Immigration Program

By Kenrya Rankin Nov 20, 2015

Today, one year after President Barack Obama announced that he would take executive action to revamp the nation’s immigration policy, the administration asked the Supreme Court to decide if the program is legal.

The president’s program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), would let undocumented immigrants apply for work permits if they have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and have no felonies or repeated misdemeanors. But Texas and 25 others states sued the Obama administration, saying that the program was an overreach of the president’s power. Both a federal district court and a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans agreed with the states. The result: DAPA, which would put an estimated 5 million immigrants on the path to citizenship, is in limbo.

The Obama administration hopes to get the high court to rule during the 2015-2016 session so that it can move forward with the program. Per the Washington Post:

In his petition, U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said the appeals court had blocked “a federal immigration enforcement policy of great national importance, and has done 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.”

He said that lower court ruling “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. And it will place a cloud over the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who came to the United States as children, have lived here for years, and been accorded deferred action…”

SCOTUS can decide to hear the case or reject it without a ruling. If it doesn’t accept the case by January, it may not be decided before the end of Obama’s time in office.

(H/t The Washington Post