The Cable

Obama Leaves the Fate of His Plan for Undocumented Immigrants With the Supreme Court

President Obama takes his immigration reforms to the Supreme Court.


The White House wants to force the fight over undocumented immigrants all the way to the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced it would ask the nation’s highest court to consider President Barack Obama’s long-delayed immigration overhaul, which would allow as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States. Obama took executive action in 2014 to enact his plan, which is known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and also would protect law-abiding Hispanics from deportation. On Monday, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which is seated in the American South, upheld a Texas-based federal judge’s earlier ban on the immigration action.

Justice spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said in a statement that the White House “remains committed to taking steps that will resolve the immigration litigation as quickly as possible.” He said the president’s plan prioritizes deportation of undocumented immigrants who break the law, not those who are raising families in the United States.

The president’s immigration reform efforts are opposed by Republicans in Congress, where GOP lawmakers have stymied attempts to overhaul the immigration system. Texas and 25 other states have also challenged the executive action.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) predicted the ban on Obama’s immigration plan will stand, and called the appeal court’s rejection “yet another confirmation of the lawlessness at the foundation of President Obama’s ‘legacy-making’ initiatives.”

If the Supreme Court takes the case — it has the discretion to choose which matters it considers — it would hold the fate of one of the president’s legacy issues in its hands. Obama has promised the American Hispanic community he would push for immigration reform before he leaves office in 2017.

The decision to take the executive action to the high court drew praise from Latino advocates. There are more than 11 million undocumented people in the United States.

The appeals court “tried to run out the clock by delaying a decision on this anti-immigrant lawsuit to make it harder for our side to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota, a non-profit group that promotes Latino interests, said in a statement Tuesday. “Thankfully, the Obama administration is not wasting any time, announcing it will take the case to the highest court in the land, where we hope justice will prevail.”

Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

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