Immigration reform will be the final major topic taken on by the Supreme Court, in response to a continually polarized government. President Obama has issued several executive orders in response to a congress that cannot make any bi-partisan decisions.
President Obama’s executive action on immigration calls for over 4 million illegal immigrants to be granted work visas if they are parents of existing U.S citizens or legal permanent residents. The applicants must have been in the U.S. since 2010, without a criminal record. The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program would spare many from deportation.
The Supreme Court will rule on this topic by June 2016, making its final decision of this session. The U.S. government remains polarized on this topic, which had drawn stern party lines, especially on the issue of immigration.
Texas, a strong Republican state, leads the charge against President Obama’s order. Last year, prior to the order going into effect, a federal Texas judge blocked the order after several Republican-led states filed suit against the action. The New Orleans 5th U.S. Circuit Court partnered with Texas upholding the immigration ruling in November.
The House of Representatives, Texas and 25 other states are charging that President Obama has overstepped his power with his action on immigration. The Supreme Court will hear arguments for the United States v Texas. The polarized condition of the government is evident being that all states involved are Republican dominated.
Texas Attorney General stated, “Fundamentally, we don’t think the president has the statutory or constitutional authority to issue these executive actions.”
As a result, the president took the issue of immigration to the Supreme Court, challenging these states assertions. The Supreme Court has been used more during President Obama’s presidency to make decisions because of the government’s polarization leading to inaction.
Immigration has been a continued partisan topic within the U.S. government, yet not the only polarizing issue. President Obama has been issuing more executive orders to get around a government that is not working. Utilizing the Supreme Court to make decisions, when states do not agree with the federal government, has the potential to change how the government functions.
This is not the first issue that the Supreme Court has had to decide on during President Obama’s term. The Affordable Care Act was taken to the Supreme Court to make a decision and the government was polarized on this issue as well.
Immigration has developed strong divisive party lines. According to Pew Research Poll, American opinions are becoming wider across party lines. The poll states since 2006, the majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents believe that immigrants strengthen the country. This has steadily increased, from 49 percent then, to 78 percent now. However, the popular view among Republicans and Republican leaners has shown little change at 34 percent then, to 35 percent today.
The Supreme Court, like immigration, is another topic that is polarized within Congress. Currently, the judges are evenly split with four conservative judges and four liberal judges, since the death of Antonin Scalia. The Republican-led Congress refuses to review President Obama’s nomination because he is at the end of his term. The Republicans would prefer to wait to allow the newly elected president the opportunity to appoint a new justice.
The immigration decision is due by June, and could permanently enforce President Obama’s executive order.
By Gichele Cocrelle
Edited by Jeanette Smith & Juanita Lewis
VICE News: Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Obama Immigration Order Shielding 4 Million From Deportation
Pew Research Center: Americans’ views of immigrants marked by widening partisan, generational divides
Reuters: Obama immigration action goes before Supreme Court
Image Courtesy of Britt Selvitelle’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License