The Supreme Court Heard Oral Arguments In The Immigration Case, US v. Texas
This morning, a group of 5,000 people made up of immigrants and advocates, young and old, gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court to show support for President Obama’s immigration initiatives as the eight justices heard oral arguments for the case US v. Texas. Among the supporters were many like Sophie Cruz, whose families faces the threat of being torn apart as a result of this case. Fewer than a dozen people, rallied by Representative Steve King (R-IA), showed up to oppose the actions.
The case challenges the Obama administration’s DAPA and expanded DACA initiatives, which would allow certain unauthorized immigrations to request a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation. As a reminder, DAPA and expanded DACA were announced in 2014 and are aimed at helping the parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders and at DREAMers who came here as children and have lived here their entire lives. The actions would keep millions of families together and provide millions more with the opportunity to contribute more fully to the economy.
Texas and 25 other states sued to block implementation of these programs and argued that the Obama administration has overstepped its statutory and constitutional authority. But in reality, it is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security to enforce immigration laws and Congress has long delegated to the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to set “national immigration enforcement policies and priorities” just like the deferred action initiatives at issue in this case. In fact, there is substantial precedent for such actions: For example, in 1990 George H. W. Bush expanded a 1987 Ronald Reagan policy so that an estimated 40% of the country’s unauthorized immigrant population at the time could request temporary protection from deportation. That’s the same proportion of the unauthorized immigrant population that could benefit from DAPA and expanded DACA.
Not only do the DAPA and expanded DACA initiatives stand on solid legal ground, but they also hugely benefit immigrant families, communities, U.S. citizens, and the economy. Nearly 4 million unauthorized immigrants could benefit from DAPA and expanded DACA. Parents of more than 5 million U.S. citizen children could benefit from DAPA and in total more than 6.1 million U.S. citizens across the country live with a family member who will be forced to continue living in fear of deportation if the Supreme Court were to rule against the deferred action programs. Additionally, by allowing unauthorized immigrants to better meet their potential, DAPA and expanded DACA would increase the nation’s GDP by $230 billion over the next 10 years and increase state and local tax revenues by approximately $805 million annually.
While it is impossible (and unwise) to try to predict the outcome of a Supreme Court case based on oral arguments, today’s arguments reinforced the fact that DAPA and expanded DACA stand on solid legal footing and that Texas and the other states have no authority to bring the case before the Court in the first place. One of the biggest takeaway of today’s arguments is the fact that Texas and the other states doubled down on an argument that explicitly works against them. In their final legal brief and in today’s oral arguments, the plaintiffs admitted that the DHS does have the legal authority to set immigration enforcement priorities and that it would be well within the agency’s authority to “issue ‘low-priority’ identification cards to aliens,” which is exactly what happens when a person receives “deferred action” under DAPA or expanded DACA.
In other words, Texas agrees that DHS has the authority to allow low-priority unauthorized immigrants to remain in the country temporarily, it just doesn’t want them to be able to work legally while they are allowed to be here. This is both illegal and illogical. For more on how Texas could have doomed its own lawsuit read this.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s easy to see why 5,000 people gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court and in communities across the country to fight for immigrant families today. The stakes in US v. Texas are incredibly high. But a ruling in favor of immigrants will protect the dignity of families, strengthen our communities, enhance public safety and national security, and boost our economy.
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