Countdown Begins to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Spotlight on Immigration

U.S-immigration-protestors
Supporters of immigration reform protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

 

U.S-immigration-protestors
Supporters of immigration reform protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

By Felicia J. Persaud

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. April 8, 2016: In exactly 10 days from today, April 8, 2016, The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on one of the most controversial issues of our time – the hot button subject of immigration.

Before the Court is U.S. v. Texas – an appeal by the U.S. government of a lower court decision that blocks the President Obama’s immigration executive action of 2014.

The President’s 2014 Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and the expanded version of his 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), is being challenged by Republican run states like Texas and 25 others, which claim that President Obama overstepped his executive powers in creating deportation relief programs for some 5 million out of the 11 million undocumented immigrants across the U.S.

DACA, launched in 2012, provides two years (four if renewed) of deportation relief and work visas to qualified immigrants brought to the United States illegally before their sixteenth birthday. Under the proposed expansion, DACA would be granted for three years instead of two, and more immigrants would be eligible. DAPA was unveiled in late 2014 to provide similar benefits to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

The President has long insisted that he has given Congress enough time since 2008 to come up with a solution to the nation’s immigration crisis – failing repeatedly failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation – and given the fact that mass deportation would be logistically and economically impossible; these programs were his only legal options within the law.

But the opponents of the order, mainly Republicans including U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, say the president is ignoring the will of Congress and attempting to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws by other means. They also argue that this decision will only encourage more illegal immigration and saddle many state governments with the massive cost of providing services to these immigrants.

Yet, as Jonathan Masters of the Council of Foreign Relations’ recently pointed out: “Every president for the last half century has granted some form of temporary deportation relief, most often to groups of asylum seekers. For instance, President Ronald Reagan in 1987 exempted some two hundred thousand Nicaraguan exiles from deportation and granted them work visas.”

Then there was the Family Fairness program put in place by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

“Bush’s program extended temporary deportation relief to these 1.5 million family members until Congress was able to codify it in another immigration reform bill months later,” said Masters in a recent article.

So why are Republicans now making this hypocritical claim when their own former leaders have done the same thing? The answer is obvious – from 2008 they have made a pact to block every single thing the President does or proposes as they are staying true to it to ensure the legacy of America’s first black President is nothing but starts and stops.

The decision now by the GOP-controlled Senate to block the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice is also a carefully timed political move. With the Court deadlocked on many cases now at a 4-4 split, it is tough to determine what will happen in this case come April 18, 2016. A decision on the case could come in June.

And given the court’s current path, an even split in the immigration case, would not be surprising.

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 The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.