The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Obama Administration on Nov. 9, preventing the administration from implementing its sweeping November 2014 actions, and setting up the possibility of an appeal to the Supreme Court.
The administration’s hotly disputed plan would have deferred deportation of certain undocumented immigrants and their legal resident children, subject to their coming forward and undergoing background checks. It would also have expanded the current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program, for children brought here illegally at a young age by their parents.
“Many immigrants might, of course, be leery of identifying themselves to the government as undocumented under such a scenario,” said Lin Schmale, SAF’s senior director of government relations.
A Supreme Court appeal, if granted, would likely result in a late June ruling, in the heat of the 2016 election cycle, and even then might only be in effect until the next president takes office. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris also have added a new dimension to immigration talks, with some state governors calling for specific bans on Syrian refugees.
In addition to the legal challenges, Schmale notes, the president’s action has resulted in strong condemnations, including the newly elected House Speaker Ryan’s promise to Republican Tea Party members that it is “unwise or unproductive” to bring up any immigration legislation so long as Barack Obama is president.
For its part, the White House blasted Ryan’s “preposterous” refusal to work with the president on immigration, with press secretary Josh Earnest saying, “It’s a little hard for [Ryan] to make the claim that somehow the president hasn’t acted in good faith on immigration when Speaker Ryan actively thwarted a compromise he himself helped to broker.”
The administration actions have also resulted in a continuing volley of criticism from Republican presidential hopefuls, including presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a key supporter of the Senate’s 2013 comprehensive reform bill. Rubio shifted his position significantly, saying that as president, he would end the DACA program even if immigration reform were not enacted.
“The ideal way for it to end would be it’s replaced by a reform system that creates an alternative,” he said, “but if it doesn’t it will end.”
Last week’s presidential debates pointed to a split in the Republican party, as candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Donald Trump both called for deportation of all of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, while Govs. Jeb Bush and John Kasich dismissed that as impractical. Rubio did not enter that discussion.