Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Executive Branch’s Immigration Powers

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

Justices hold fate of millions of families in their hands

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), commented on the oral arguments heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the matter of United States v Texas. The case will determine whether millions of immigrants will be able to apply for temporary reprieve from deportation, "deferred action," and the opportunity to apply for work permits upon completion of a background check and biometric screening.

AILA President Victor Nieblas Pradis remarked, "Ever since President Obama announced these programs in November 2014, families have been waiting for their moment to come forward and live free from fear. The loudest voices on the steps of the Supreme Court today were those of mothers and fathers, of brothers and sisters, and of children, and we hope the court hears their pleas.

"President Obama's executive actions are well within the authority of the president. Every president since President Eisenhower has taken executive action to shape immigration priorities and the Supreme Court itself has recognized that immigration officials can grant 'deferred action' to individuals who are a low priority for removal.

"The states' lawsuit rests on questionable legal grounds. In terms of standing, today's argument made clear that if Texas and the other states can bring this case then the door would be flung wide open to countless suits in federal court challenging all kinds of federal agency action that impact states. Moreover, the states' view that Congress has to legislate work authorization would have disastrous consequences for literally millions of people who are applying for green cards, seeking asylum and other forms of legal relief, but do not yet have legal status. Under longstanding current law and practice the federal government is granting them work authorization, but the states' view would stop that and turn the administration of immigration laws upside down.

"I am not surprised that the justices asked tough questions. They do that in all oral arguments, and rarely does it foretell how they will come down in the case. AILA is confident that on the law and facts at issue in this case, it is increasingly clear that there is ample authority and precedent for the president to take these steps," Mr. Nieblas concluded.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 16041830.