POLITICO: Congressional Dems back Obama's SCOTUS immigration appeal
More than 200 congressional Democrats are throwing their weight behind the Obama administration's appeal to the Supreme Court to take up a legal case that has stalled President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and 216 other Democratic lawmakers filed a friend-of-the-court brief Thursday evening. The Supreme Court will likely decide at a mid-January conference whether to take up the case.
"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 to be released later Friday.
The executive actions, which would grant work authorization to more than 4 million immigrants here illegally but who have children who are U.S. citizens or green card holders, have been on hold since a February federal court injunction. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month to uphold the previous decision.
Now, the Obama administration is rushing to urge the Supreme Court to hear the case this term in an effort to resolve the legal impasse before Obama leaves office.
The Democrats' amicus brief argues that Obama's immigration program, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, is no different from long-held precedent that gives the executive branch considerable power over implementing immigration policies. The president has the right to set certain enforcement priorities in terms of which immigrants to deport, the brief argued, and use discretion in how those priorities are carried out.
The ruling, Democrats argue, would "force Congress to specifically prescribe every priority and power with detailed enforcement instructions." That, in practice, would take away the power of the executive branch to make key immigration enforcement decisions, Democrats argued in the brief.
The lawsuit challenging Obama's immigration actions was filed by Texas and 25 other states. The administration won a small but critical victory when the Supreme Court earlier this week granted Texas just eight additional days to file responses to Obama's appeal to the high court. The timing means the case could be heard and ruled on next year.