Obama takes immigration leniency plan to the Supreme Court

20 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Obama Administration Asks Supreme Court To Take Up Immigration Case.

President Barack Obama’s administration moved quickly to seek a U.S. The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court on Friday to overturn lower courts and declare that the president has the authority to allow millions of undocumented immigrants to remain and work in the United States without fear of deportation.

Supreme Court hearing on his plan to shield as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, setting up the prospect of a politically charged court battle next year. Verrilli said the the ruling against the administration earlier this month “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. The rallies are being held on the first anniversary of Obama’s announcement that he would take executive action to defer deportations for qualified parents of U.S.-born children and for certain younger undocumented immigrants.

Acting less than two weeks after a federal appeals court said Obama had overstepped his authority, government lawyers called on the justices to take up the case and issue a ruling that would shape the president’s legacy and the 2016 presidential race. “The court of appeals’ judgment enjoins nationwide a federal policy of great importance to federal law enforcement, to many states, and to millions of families with longstanding and close connections with this country,” U.S. The president’s proposal was challenged in court by a group of state governors, who said he was overstepping his legal authority and unduly burdening states.

The case raises major issues involving the separation of powers and federalism, and it has been one of the major flash points of disagreement between the Democrats and Republicans running for president. Obama announced the program through an executive order exactly a year ago Friday after House Republicans blocked an effort to pass a comprehensive immigration bill. If the justices decide to hear the case by mid-January, it is likely that the case will be heard this term, which would mean a decision would be expected by the end of June.

It is “imperative that we demonstrate the urgent need for relief for millions of immigrant families, including those with U.S. citizen children, all of whom continue to live in fear of deportation,” said a statement from one pro-immigrant coalition, which planned to march from Arlington, Va., to the White House on Friday morning. The program, announced in November 2014, applies to people whose children are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and who meet other requirements. The administration contends the states have no legal standing to sue because it is up to the federal government to set immigration policy and that the Department of Homeland Security did not violate federal statutes in devising the new program. Republican candidates have denounced Obama’s program as an abuse of executive power and vowed to revoke it; Democratic hopefuls have all pledged to expand the actions. As a practical matter, the government says it does not have the resources to annually deport more than about 400,000 of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal aliens.

Obama’s most recent round of executive actions on immigration, which could affect more than 4 million immigrants here illegally, have been on hold since a February order from U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in response to a lawsuit from Texas and 25 other states who sued Obama over the programs soon after they were announced last year. Hanen’s order blocking the actions was largely based on technical reasoning; he ruled that the immigration programs should have gone through an official notice-and-comment process before they were allowed to proceed. The majority also said the plan runs afoul of federal immigration law and its rules governing how parents may change their classification based on a child’s status.

For that reason, pro-immigrant groups are also trying to put pressure on President Obama to take other action against deportations while he remains in office. The 2014 actions, called Deferred Actions for Parents of Americans, came on top of a similar 2012 directive from Obama that gave those protections to young immigrants brought here illegally. Circuit Judge Jerry Smith wrote that DAPA goes beyond the law enforcement concept of “prosecutorial discretion,” in which a government with limited resources sets priorities for enforcement. “Deferred action . . . is much more than nonenforcement: It would affirmatively confer ‘lawful presence’ and associated benefits on a class of unlawfully present aliens,” he said. “Though revocable, that change in designation would trigger” eligibility for federal and state benefits “that would not otherwise be available to illegal aliens.” Circuit Judge Carolyn Dineen King dissented. This case essentially boils down to a policy dispute.” Generally, the court must accept a case by January in order to schedule it for oral arguments and a decision before the court’s term ends in June. But experts on the court note that the justices could also make special accommodations for a case that carries such important questions about federalism and the balance of power between the political branches of government.

It would be adding to a docket filled with election-year controversies: a review of abortion restrictions passed by the states, whether universities may consider race when making admission decisions, and whether religious freedom means that some organizations do not have to comply with a mandate in the Affordable Care Act requiring insurance coverage of contraceptives for women.

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