House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and 216 other congressional Democrats on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to take up a case that has delayed President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
“We are confident that the Supreme Court will support President Obama’s decision to use the authority granted by Congress to set enforcement priorities and focus our limited resources on threats to national security and public safety, not hard-working families,” Pelosi and Reid said in a joint statement on Friday. “Instead of taking steps to permanently solve our immigration problems or voting on a good reform bill like the one passed by the Senate in 2013, Republicans have only sought to end birthright citizenship, defund the executive actions and deport DREAMers.”
The president took executive actions in November of last year that would extend temporary status and shield as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. But the move had been largely criticized throughout conservative circles, with some calling it as an “executive amnesty program.” Texas and 25 other states took the federal government to court, arguing that the Obama administration overstepped its authority and placed substantial burdens on local governments.
In a 2-1 ruling last month, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Texas-based federal judge’s injunction to block the executive action. The legal wrangling has left millions of undocumented immigrants in limbo for more than a year. A week after the ruling, the Justice Department petitioned the Supreme Court to take up the legal challenge.
NBC News reported that DOJ attorneys are working at an uncharacteristically fast pace to bring the case before the Supreme Court during the next term, in an effort to obtain a ruling before the president’s final term in office ends. If the case is taken up in the spring, the decision would come down by late June.
Democrats said the Court of Appeals ruling would “strip the [executive branch of its] broad authority to make discretionary judgments on how best to enforce the nation’s immigration laws where Congress has not prescribed a specific action.”