When President Barack Obama used an executive order to go around Congress and grant temporary “amnesty” to millions of illegal immigrants, conservatives were up in arms.
Obama defended his actions as necessary, while opponents argued it was an excessive — and illegal — overreach of executive power.
Now, the raging political fight over immigration comes to the Supreme Court on Monday in a dispute that could affect millions of people who are in the United States illegally.
The court is weighing the fate of Obama administration programs that could shield roughly 4 million people from deportation and grant them the legal right to hold a job.
Texas and 25 other states sued to block the new initiatives soon after they were announced, and lower courts have ruled in their favor. The programs have never taken effect.
The states, joined by congressional Republicans, argue that Obama doesn’t have the power to effectively change immigration law. When he announced the measures 17 months ago, Obama said he was acting under his own authority because Congress had failed to overhaul the immigration system. The Senate had passed legislation on a bipartisan vote, but House Republicans refused to put the matter to a vote.
“Fundamentally, we don’t think the president has the statutory or constitutional authority to issue these executive actions,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
House Republicans told the court that Obama is claiming the power “to decree that millions of individuals may live, work and receive benefits in this country even though federal statutes plainly prohibit them from doing so.”
A decision in favor of the administration would allow the programs to take effect in the waning months of Obama’s presidency. A loss or even a tie vote would block the administrations actions for the foreseeable future.
A decision in U.S. v. Texas, 15-674, is expected by late June.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.