The Supreme Court has just announced it will take on one of the lightning-rod issues in this election cycle: illegal immigration.
At issue is whether President Obama violated the Constitution with his executive actions aimed granting quasi-legal status and work permits to up to five million illegal immigrants. A decision in favor of Obama could open the door for millions of illegal immigrants to come “out of the shadows” just in time for the 2016 presidential election.
The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will take up a case challenging the legality of President Barack Obama’s executive actions aimed at granting quasi-legal status and work permits to up to five million people who entered the U.S. illegally as children or who have children who are American citizens.
The high court’s widely-expected move gives Obama a chance to revive a key legacy item that has been in limbo for nearly a year, since a federal judge in Texas issued an order halting immigration moves the president announced just after the 2014 midterm elections.
The justices are expected to hear arguments on the issue in April and to hand down a ruling by the end of June. Illegal immigration has already been a hot topic in the presidential contest, but the high-profile attention brought on by the Supreme Court fight could amp up the debate even further as the campaign plays out this spring and summer.
If the court rules in Obama’s favor, his administration will have a relatively short, seven-month window to try to roll out the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the new initiative called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. While advocacy groups are eager to have illegal immigrants apply for the programs, there are questions about how many will do so if they’re debuted or expanded so close to the end of Obama’s presidency.
The calculation of whether to apply may depend, in part, on the state of the presidential race and whether whoever is atop the field seems likely to continue Obama’s policies. Since the moves are executive actions, they could be quickly rescinded and most of the major Republican candidates have pledged to do just that.
Interesting to note the other side of the execution actions President Obama has been so fond of throughout his presidency: they are quickly revocable by the next Republican president.
The lawsuit the justices agreed to hear was brought by Texas and 25 other states claiming they would be harmed by Obama’s executive actions.
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to entertain four legal questions raised by Obama’s immigration action.
Three of the questions were laid out by the Justice Department in the petition asking the justices to take up the case: whether states create legal standing to challenge the deferred actions grants by providing benefits to such immigrants, whether the actions Obama ordered in 2014 were arbitrary and capricious under federal law, and whether the administration was obliged to go through a formal notice-and-comment period before proceeding with its plan.
The fourth question, added by the justices in their Tuesday order, is whether Obama’s actions violated the Constitutional provision requiring him to “take care that the Laws be faithfully executed”—in essence, whether existing law bars the president from making the kinds of enforcement changes he sought to make.
The 26 states backing the lawsuit the court will take up argue that Obama did breach his duty to “take care” that the laws are enforced and that his actions amounted to a power grab that violated “the Constitution’s separation of powers more generally.”
The Supreme Court fight over this hot election issue will, of course, only amplify the campaign trail attention on it. But a decision in favor of the Obama administration that could shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation — and welcome them “out of the shadows” — could potentially have implications on the election outcome itself.
With millions of potential voters coming out of the shadows just in time for the November election, the impact could be significant. Even if these illegal immigrants are not *technically* allowed to vote under their new status (though, admittedly, we never know what to expect from this legislate-from-the-bench court that invented the Obamacare “tax”) a favorable ruling would likely give them additional status and documentation. With states like mine that simply require someone to “vouch” for a voter, how many of these newly out-of-the-shadows illegal immigrants will show up at polling stations?
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]