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November 01, 2015

Justice Department urges Supreme Court to allow deportation relief for certain undocumented immigrants

The Justice Department filed a petition Nov. 20 asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the Obama administration to implement a plan to provide temporary deportation relief to as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants.

The petition seeks to overturn a decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a preliminary injunction halting the president’s executive action, which was announced in November 2014 to provide deportation protection for parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who have been in the country for at least five years. The deferrals would be granted for three years at a time and include work authorization.

At the time the executive action was announced, then ABA President William C. Hubbard called it “one step toward a better functioning, more realistic and humane system,” but strongly called for a “more comprehensive and permanent legislative solution.”

Texas and 25 other states claimed that states could face millions of dollars in additional expenses in benefits for the undocumented immigrants granted deportation relief under the executive action. In upholding the preliminary injunction issued by a district court in Texas, the Fifth Circuit upheld Texas’ legal right to challenge the federal government’s actions. 

In its petition to the Supreme Court, the government stated that if the Fifth Circuit ruling were “left undisturbed,” it will “allow states to frustrate the federal government’s enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws” and “force millions of people – who are not removal priorities under criteria the court conceded are valid  and who are parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents − to continue to work off the books, without the option of lawful employment to provide for their families.”

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, a decision could come down in late June.

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