United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, now before the Supreme Court, concerns Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, which was introduced by the Obama administration in November 2014.
DAPA, if implemented, would allow some four million unauthorized immigrants, who are the parents of citizens or legal permanent residents, to apply for a program that would defer their deportation and allow them to apply for work permits.
Texas and 25 other states have filed suit, claiming that the president has exceeded his authority by proposing this program.
Supreme Court Appears Divided on Immigration
As is often the case, the arguments before the court are based not so much on the moral and ethical questions tied to immigration, but on a legal issue: standing to sue.
Standing to sue requires that the plaintiffs in a case would suffer some substantive injury. In this case, Texas claims that it would be prohibitively expensive to issue drivers’ licenses to the immigrants.
Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., presenting the administration’s case, argued that Texas had not – or would not – suffer the kind of injury that would give it standing to sue. Justice Sotomayor also questioned the idea that DAPA created a real, financial burden, asking:
Why can’t you just let people wait on line?
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s line of questioning suggested he might side with the more conservative members of the court, upholding the plaintiffs’ claim of standing to sue.
A four-to-four decision would leave in place a lower court decision blocking the plan, effectively preventing President Obama from reintroducing DAPA during the remainder of his term. It would also set no Supreme Court precedent, thus allowing for a challenge at some later date, presumably after the appointment of a new Justice to replace Antonin Scalia.