Is It Too Late for Obama On Immigration Reform? | Immigration Battle | FRONTLINE | PBS


President Barack Obama’s pledge to overtake the nation’s immigration insurance policies now hinges on how briskly, if in any respect, the Supreme Courtroom considers the primary authorized problem to these reforms.

On Monday, a federal appeals courtroom dominated that the administration couldn’t transfer ahead with a plan to present as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants with work permits and safety from deportation.

The result shocked nobody. Nonetheless, proponents of the reforms have been hoping the choice would arrive in time for the administration to petition the Supreme Courtroom to determine the case as early as this spring. If the appeals courtroom’s ruling is overturned, that might enable the reforms to be applied earlier than the president leaves workplace in Jan. 2017. In any other case, the insurance policies face an unsure future within the arms of the subsequent president.

Reform supporters say they’re optimistic, however authorized consultants say that the timeline might now be too tight for the Supreme Courtroom to rule on the case throughout its present time period — until the justices take the bizarre step of expediting its evaluation.

The administration has been battling courtroom challenges — and the clock — because the president introduced the coverage, referred to as Deferred Motion for Mother and father of People (DAPA), in addition to a separate plan to develop protections for immigrants delivered to america as kids. Obama unveiled the initiatives after complete immigration reform died on Capitol Hill final yr, saying  he would not look ahead to Congress to finish its impasse over reform.

The two govt actions have been instantly challenged by the lawyer basic of Texas in a lawsuit that was joined by 25 different states who mentioned they’d be financially harmed by the initiatives. The states argued that the administration overstepped its authority with the initiatives, wading into policy-making territory usually reserved for Congress.

In February, a federal decide in Texas dominated that the administration should halt the reforms. In Could, a three-member panel of america Courtroom of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld that injunction in a preliminary determination. On Monday, its last ruling got here out — a 2-1 determination towards the Obama administration.

Regardless of the defeat, advocates for reform “breathed an enormous sigh of aid” when it got here down, mentioned Melissa Crow, authorized director for the American Immigration Council, which filed an amicus transient in favor of the administration’s actions. Supporters had been anticipating the choice towards their case for months — the one query was whether or not it might arrive in time for an enchantment to be made to the Supreme Courtroom this yr.

“We knew we needed to have the Fifth Circuit determination earlier than we might transfer ahead. The beginning gun has now been fired and we’re not in limbo, which is nice,” Crow mentioned.

After the choice got here out Monday, the Division of Justice introduced that it might enchantment the case “as shortly as doable.” Crow mentioned the division has been making ready the enchantment for months, and that it might come inside days.

The 26 states concerned within the go well with will then have 30 days to answer the enchantment — however they’ll additionally search an extension of one other 30 days, mentioned Josh Blackman, a regulation professor at South Texas School of Legislation, who filed an amicus transient supporting the states. The Justice Division is certain to oppose the extension, however Blackman mentioned its probabilities of profitable that combat are slim: “I can’t discover any occasion the place the courtroom denied a 30-day extension. Typically talking, they’re automated.”

As soon as the states submit their response, the Supreme Courtroom often offers itself about two weeks to evaluation a case, after which the justices convene to determine whether or not to listen to it, mentioned Blackman.

In previous years, circumstances thought of by the courtroom earlier than Jan. 15 are usually heard throughout its present time period, which ends in June; circumstances that come later are heard within the subsequent time period, which begins in October — too late for the Obama administration to finish the months-long work of implementing the coverage.

Blackman did the maths: If the Justice Division appeals by Nov. 20, the states would have at the least till Dec. 20 to file a short. If they’re granted the conventional 30-day extension, that takes them to the top of January. That may push the enchantment previous the essential mid-January inflection level.

Even then, although, the Supreme Courtroom might nonetheless select to listen to the case this time period, if the justices take into account it pressing sufficient. However they will not be motivated to rush the query, in keeping with Blackman.

At concern is a “very critical separation of powers concern,” he famous, one that might require the courtroom to rule on how far a president’s energy for govt motion can go — an space of regulation that he mentioned has been gray for many years. The courtroom has thought of such points earlier than, Blackman mentioned, however its basic coverage has tended towards making larger selections than it strictly has to.

“I don’t suppose they’ll be rushed to resolve such a critical concern,” mentioned Blackman, particularly since “this case might go away completely with the subsequent presidential election if a Republican turns into president.”

However Crow famous that the courtroom wouldn’t essentially should resolve the chief motion query. As an alternative, it might decide that Texas lacks standing to problem the case.

Texas has argued that it has standing as a result of it must spend extra to concern driver’s licenses and supply different state companies to undocumented immigrants protected by the president’s proposals. However the federal authorities has argued that the state is more likely to profit from elevated tax income.

In its ruling this week, the bulk for the Fifth Circuit mentioned Texas had standing, noting that the state would lose a minimal of $130.89 for every driver’s license issued to a DAPA beneficiary.

In her 53-page dissent, Decide Carolyn King questioned that argument, and took concern with the pace at which the courtroom’s ruling was issued.

“I’ve a agency and particular conviction {that a} mistake has been made,” wrote King. “That mistake has been exacerbated by the prolonged delay that has occurred in deciding this ‘expedited’ enchantment. There isn’t a justification for that delay.”


Katie Worth

Katie Price, Former Reporter, FRONTLINE



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