A federal appeals court upheld a ruling that blocks the Obama administration's deferred deportation program for four million undocumented immigrants. Pool photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- The Obama administration announced it will ask the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that blocks the deferred deportation for more than 5 million undocumented immigrants.
The announcement comes hours after a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said the lower court "did not err and most assuredly did not abuse its discretion" in a challenge brought by Texas and 25 other states with Republican governors who sought to block President Barack Obama's 2014 immigration initiative.
"The Department of Justice remains committed to taking steps that will resolve the immigration litigation as quickly as possible in order to allow [the Department of Homeland Security] to bring greater accountability to our immigration system by prioritizing the removal of the worst offenders, not people who have long ties to the United States and who are raising American children," said Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesman for the Justice Department. "The Department disagrees with the Fifth Circuit's adverse ruling and intends to seek further review from the Supreme Court of the United States."
The high court could take up the issue by summer 2016. Opponents of Obama's executive action argue the administration overreached its power to allow millions of immigrant families protections that include three-year work permits under the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. The ruling continues to block DAPA and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which allows immigrants brought to the United States as children to apply for work authorization and protection from deportation for three years.
The White House said it strongly disagrees with the appeals court ruling.
"The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws," the statement read. "This lawsuit is preventing people who have been part of our communities for years from working on the books, contributing to our economy by paying taxes on that work, and being held accountable."
The appeals-court ruling was widely expected after a three-judge panel from the same court rejected in May the administration's request to quickly throw a lifeline to the injunction.
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders weighed in on the issue Monday afternoon, saying he would expand the president's executive action to create a pathway to citizenship in the first 100 days of his tenure if elected president.
"We cannot and must not sweep up millions of men, women and children, many of whom have been here for years, and throw them out of this country," he said. "As president, passing a legislative solution to our broken immigration system will be a top priority. But let me be clear -- I will not wait around for Congress to act."