Washington: The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court for a speedy decision on its plans to shield from deportation millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
Legal papers filed today call for the court’s immediate review of President Barack Obama’s plan to protect and give work permits to as many as 5 million immigrants. The immigrants affected are mainly the parents of American citizens and lawful permanent residents.
The appeal, filed a year after Obama announced his executive actions on immigration, injects the Supreme Court into a dispute between 26 mainly Republican-led states and the Democratic administration, amid a presidential race in which immigration has been a flashpoint.
If the court agrees to hear and decide the case by late June, and if the justices side with the administration, that would leave roughly seven months in Obama’s presidency to implement his plans.
But time is running short for consideration of the immigration issue in the court’s current term. Texas, the lead state in the lawsuit, has 30 days to respond, but could ask for more time. If the justices don’t agree by mid-January to hear the case, the issue probably will not be decided until after Obama leaves office in January 2017.
At issue is the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, which Obama said would allow people who have been in the United States more than five years and who have children who are in the country legally to “come out of the shadows and get right with the law.”
Texas quickly led a legal challenge to the program, and has won every round in court so far, effectively blocking Obama’s plans.
Most recently, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the states.
The administration makes three main arguments in its Supreme Court appeal: the states have no right to challenge the policy in federal court; the government followed appropriate procedure; and the administration has broad discretion in the area of immigration.
Without the Supreme Court’s intervention, millions of people will be forced “to continue to work off the books, without the option of lawful employment to provide for their families,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. Said in the court filing.
The future of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally has been much discussed by Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has pledged to go further than Obama to protect large groups of immigrants from deportation.