US Supreme Court to review Obama immigration action
WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear President Barack Obama’s bid to resurrect his plan to shield more than 4 million illegal immigrants from deportation, a unilateral executive action he took in 2014 to bypass the Republican-led Congress.
The dispute, to be argued before the court in the coming months with a ruling due by the end of June, will be one of the centrepiece cases of the court’s current term. Obama’s executive action was blocked by lower courts after Texas and 25 other Republican-governed sued to stop it, contending he exceeded his presidential powers under the US Constitution.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement that courts have long recognised the limits to presidential authority.
“The court should affirm what President Obama said himself on more than 20 occasions: that he cannot unilaterally rewrite congressional laws and circumvent the people’s representatives,” Paxton said.
The Supreme Court action was welcomed by immigration advocates, who said they hope the program will be upheld and go into effect before Obama leaves office in January 2017.
“It gives so much hope to millions of families who are in legal limbo right now,” said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.
The nine justices will review a November ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a February 2015 decision by US District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, a city along the Texas border with Mexico, to halt Obama’s action.
With some of his major legislative initiatives suffocated by Republican lawmakers, the Democratic president has resorted to executive action to get around Congress on issues including immigration, gun control and the Obamacare healthcare law. The most recent executive action came this month when he acted unilaterally to expand background checks for certain gun purchases.
His executive actions have antagonised Republicans who accuse him of unlawfully taking actions by executive fiat that only Congress can perform.
Obama’s November 2014 executive order lifting the threat of deportation against more than 4 million illegal immigrants was directed at people with no criminal record whose children are US citizens. Those eligible would be able to work legally and receive some federal benefits. — Reuters