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Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument on President’s Executive Actions on Immigration

On April 18, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider United States v. Texas, a politically charged lawsuit about the legality of some of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The initiatives in dispute — expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) — have been on hold since a district court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction in the case in February 2015. A Supreme Court decision in favor of the United States could clear the way for the initiatives to go forward as early as June 2016 and provide temporary relief from deportation to as many as 3.7 million people.

The case now before the Supreme Court involves a lawsuit filed in federal district court in the Southern District of Texas by 26 states seeking to block implementation of the President’s plan to expand DACA and implement DAPA. The states claim that expanded DACA and DAPA violate federal laws and the Constitution. Specifically, they make the following claims:

  • Expanded DACA and DAPA violate the “Take Care Clause” of the Constitution, which states that the President must “take Care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
  • Expanded DACA and DAPA violate the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because these initiatives are arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with the immigration laws.
  • The federal government did not comply with certain technical procedural requirements under the APA, including notice-and-comment rulemaking, before it announced the expanded DACA and DAPA initiatives.

The Supreme Court first will consider whether the states have standing, or legal capacity, to bring the lawsuit. In addition, the Court may consider whether expanded DACA and DAPA are lawful or whether they violate the Constitution or the APA.

Should the Justices reach a 4-4 decision, rather than a majority, the Fifth Circuit’s decision would remain intact. As a result, the injunction preventing implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA would remain in place, and the district court would proceed to the merits of the case.