The Supreme Court announced Tuesday it will rule on the legality of President Barack Obama’s executive orders granting work permits to millions of illegal immigrants this summer.
The timing of the announcement is a win for the administration, which was ordered to halt implementation of the order in February, until the case plays out. If the Supreme Court had waited longer to hear the case, it could have remained stalled through the end of Obama’s last term as president.
A coalition of 26 states quickly sued the administration after Obama issued the executive order in 2014, on the grounds he overstepped his executive authority when he unilaterally granted exemption from deportation and work permits to as many as five million illegal immigrants.
Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) would exempt about four million illegal immigrants from deportation who are parents. Another part of the order expands Obama’s 2012 executive order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which temporarily exempted young illegal immigrants from deportation.
The case will likely be argued in April and ruled on in June. If the Supreme Court upholds the order, the administration has promised to quickly implement the program.
If the Supreme Court rules Obama did not have the authority to issue the order, he may have to shut down the entire DACA program in addition to ceasing implementation of the new order. That could have major consequences for about 780,000 illegal immigrants known as “dreamers” who were granted legal status under DACA in 2012.
Judge Andrew Hanen issued the stay on Obama’s immigration plans in February, after he discovered the Justice Department had misled the court about the details of the plan, and denied a March request from the Justice Department to lift the hold.
The administration had told the court the executive order would not be implemented until Feb. 18 — two days after Hanen ordered a hold on implementation — but then admitted in March it had already issued amnesty to 100,000 illegal immigrants.
After Hanen refused to lift the hold, the Obama administration appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in August. The three-judge panel upheld Hanen’s stay in a November ruling.
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