The Supreme Court Will Hear Case On President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration
Today the Supreme Court announced that it will hear United States v. Texas, a case that challenges two parts of President Obama’s November 2014 executive actions on immigration. The case was brought by conservative lawmakers in 26 states who are hoping to block President Obama’s expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The Supreme Court granting cert in this case means that the Court will review an injunction—issued by former President George W. Bush-appointed U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen and upheld by the Fifth Circuit U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—that is currently blocking DAPA and expanded DACA. Taking up this case means the Supreme Court has the potential to unfreeze DAPA and expanded DACA, which would have a huge positive impact on the millions of DREAMers, their families, and all Americans who would benefit from these executive actions.
The Supreme Court also decided today that it would not hear an appeal from an Arizona sheriff hoping to block the president’s immigration directives as well. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his anti-immigrant stances and birtherism, claimed that DAPA and expanded DACA would allow more immigrants to enter the country illegally, which would lead to increased crime and place a burden on law enforcement. A federal judge as well as the federal appeals court in Washington, DC both said Arpaio’s claims were speculative and he has no legal basis to challenge the program. By not agreeing to hear his appeal, the Supreme Court let those previous rulings stand.
The Supreme Court agreeing to hear US v. Texas means the millions of DREAMers and all American families who would benefit from DAPA and expanded DACA will finally see their day in court. And there is a lot at stake: Under the DAPA and expanded DACA, nearly 4 million unauthorized immigrants could be eligble for temporary protection from deportation. And the benefits would not stop with that 4 million. Millions more family members—mostly U.S-born children—would be free from the fear of a loved one being deported.
If that’s not reason enough, the entire U.S. economy would benefit from full implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA. Already, the economy has forfeited $3.6 billion in increased gross domestic product because of the injunction. And every additional day until the Court allows expanded DACA and DAPA to move forward, the nation will forgo another $29.9 million. The initiatives are a legitimate exercise of discretion delegated years ago by Congress and are based in strong legal and historical precedent. In fact, every president since Eisenhower—Republican and Democrat—has utilized deferred action or similar administrative mechanisms to exercise discretion in removal decisions. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush’s Immigration Commissioner expanded a blanket deferral of removal that was estimated to protect some 1.5 million individuals, or 40 percent of the undocumented population at the time, which is roughly the same percentage that expanded DACA and DAPA cover today.
BOTTOM LINE: The stakes of US v. Texas are high. The immigrant community is an integral economic and social force in the United States, and it deserves a fair chance to gain legal status. The Supreme Court has the chance to reject this politically-motivated case and respect the authority of the secretary of homeland security to establish immigration enforcement policies. Let’s hope they do.
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