In November of 2014, Obama bypassed Congress in ordering the creation of DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, a program intended to allow millions of people currently considered undocumented immigrants to apply for both protection from deportation and permission to work legally in the United States. At the time of the announcement, The New York Times said Obama's plan "all but dared members of next year’s Republican-controlled Congress to reverse his actions."
Today, a Republican-backed coalition of 26 states against Obama's DAPA plan reached its logical destination. The Supreme Court announced it'd consider the case, the Times reported. The implications, of course, are vast:
If the Supreme Court upholds Mr. Obama’s actions, the White House has vowed to move quickly to set up the DAPA program and begin enrolling immigrants before his successor takes over early next year. Democratic presidential candidates have said they will continue the program, but most of the Republicans in the race have vowed to dismantle it and redouble immigration enforcement.
DAPA is an extension of Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children "and meet several guidelines" to apply for a work permit and protection from being deported. DAPA, on the other hand, proposed to extend similar benefits to the undocumented parents of either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
The elevation of the protest to the Supreme Court level follows a series of setbacks for the program: In February, a Texas Federal District Court entered a preliminary injunction, and was later affirmed in November appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. As the Washington Post's Greg Sargent points out, there's a number of ways the Supreme Court could rule:
It could agree with the administration that the states lack standing to sue, thus allowing DAPA to proceed. It could rule on statutory grounds — that is, on the question of whether Obama’s executive action is consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act. The administration says that in the INA, Congress granted the executive a great deal of discretion to set enforcement priorities, and that DAPA — in temporarily deferring the deportation of millions of parents of children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and allowing them to get work permits — is merely exercising this discretion.
But SCOTUS could also look at the case more broadly, examining whether Obama's executive order “violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution." The Court is expected rule by the end of June.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.