The U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday to consider the Obama administration’s controversial immigration program, which has been on hold for nearly a year after a Texas-based federal judge blocked the measure.
The program, announced in November 2014, is known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. It would shield more than 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to apply for a renewable work permit.
It was stopped by U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville, who ruled the Obama administration didn’t comply with the federal government’s Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how federal regulations are made. A Nov. 9 decision by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Hanen's decision.
Texas was the first state to file suit to stop the program; 25 states eventually joined the case.
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In a statement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the high court’s decision indicates the justices have an interest in seeing that the rule of law is upheld.
“In deciding to hear this case, the Supreme Court recognizes the importance of the separation of powers,” Paxton said. “As federal courts have already ruled three times, there are limits to the president’s authority, and those limits enacted by Congress were exceeded when the president unilaterally sought to grant ‘lawful presence’ to more than 4 million unauthorized aliens who are in this country unlawfully. 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.”
The case will likely go before the court in April, with a decision coming before the court adjourns in June, the Washington Post reported.
The timeline has had proponents of the program concerned that even if the program is allowed to go into effect, immigrants who may qualify for relief will be reluctant to sign up. They worry that a Republican successor to the White House next year would dismantle the controversial initiative and reverse course by taking stronger actions on immigration enforcement.
Despite the concerns, immigrant rights activists expressed relief that the case would be heard by the Supreme Court.
“Our broken immigration system is bad for workers, families and businesses," said Jose P. Garza, the executive director of the Workers’ Defense Project, which advocates for immigration reform and better conditions of laborers. "We applaud the Supreme Court for taking on this case, and we are confident they will rule in favor of hardworking immigration families and the administration's commonsense executive actions."