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U.S. Justices Take No Action on Obama Immigration Case

15 Jan

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday took no immediate action on whether it will hear President Barack Obama’s bid to revive his plan to shield more than 4 million immigrants from deportation, a move that bypassed the Republican-led Congress.

The case was not on the list of new cases the court agreed on Friday to take up. The court could make an announcement next week on whether it will hear the immigration dispute. If the justices hear the case it would become one of the centerpiece cases of its current term, which runs until June.

Obama’s 2014 executive action, taken after Congress failed to pass bipartisan immigration legislation, was blocked by lower courts after Texas and 25 other Republican-governed states sued to stop it, contending he exceeded his presidential powers under the U.S. Constitution.

The justices must decide whether to take up the administration’s appeal of a November ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a February 2015 decision by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, a city along the Texas border with Mexico, to halt Obama’s action.

Obama’s executive order lifting the threat of deportation against more than 4 million illegal immigrants was directed at people with no criminal record whose children are U.S. citizens. Those eligible would be able to work legally and receive some federal benefits. States were not required to give any benefits.

With some of his major legislative initiatives stymied by Republican lawmakers, the Democratic president has resorted to executive action to circumvent Congress on issues including immigration, gun control, climate policy and the Obamacare healthcare law.

These steps have antagonized Republicans, who accuse him of unlawfully taking actions by executive fiat that should be the purview of Congress.

Should the justices opt not to hear the case, Obama’s program would be effectively dead, with Obama’s term in office ending in January 2017.