U.S. Supreme Court

Richard Wolf
January 19, 2016 – 9:57 a.m. EST

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will give President Obama a final shot at implementing his plan to shield more than 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The justices agreed Tuesday to hear the administration’s contention that Obama has the power to change immigration policy without going through Congress.

The court’s agreement to hear the appeal to a challenge brought by Texas and 25 other states led by Republican governors will add fuel to the heated debate over illegal immigration in the 2016 presidential campaign. The case will be heard in April and decided in June, a month before the two parties’ political conventions.

A decision reversing the appeals court would give the Department of Homeland Security seven months to begin implementing the policy before Obama’s term ends in January 2017. At that point, it would face likely extension from a Democratic president or extinction from a Republican.

Obama unveiled the program in 2014 as an extension of his earlier policy delaying the threat of deportation for about 770,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. The new plan would broaden that program and add protections for about 4.3 million adults with children who are U.S. citizens. It would make them eligible for work permits and a host of health care, disability and retirement benefits.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in November upheld Texas’ challenge to the deferred deportation plan. The administration said the lower court ruling denies parents “who have lived in this country for years, would pass a background check, are not priorities for removal, and have a son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.”

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