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White House Appeals Immigration Case To Supreme Court

President Obama speaks about immigration reform during a meeting with young immigrants in the White House on Feb. 4. The president's 2014 executive actions on immigration have been caught up in a legal dispute, which the White House has appealed to the Supreme Court.

One year after President Obama announced new executive actions on immigration, his administration is asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on the new policies.

The executive actions in question — the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, as well as an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, or DACA — would have affected millions of immigrants.

They would permit parents of American citizens, as well as immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, to apply for "deferred action," which would allow them to live and work in America without fear of deportation.

But the executive actions have been caught up in a legal dispute since February and have never been implemented. (The original DACA executive action, from 2012, has already granted deferred action to some immigrants and is not affected by this case.)

Most recently, a federal appeals court decided in favor of Texas and other states challenging the Nov. 20, 2014, executive actions. The court ruled that President Obama had overreached his authority in issuing the orders.

Now, the Obama administration has appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

The case centers on the question of whether the administration's actions are a matter of prosecutorial discretion — the executive branch deciding which immigrants to deport, on a case-by-case basis — or an attempt to unilaterally alter the nation's immigration laws.

In the appeal to the Supreme Court, the administration argues that deferred action falls under the "longstanding authority" of the secretary of homeland security — and that given the impossibility of deporting every "removable alien" in America, the administration must have the ability to prioritize deportations.

The administration also cites "the irreparable injury to the many families affected by delay" in implementing the executive actions.

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