The Supreme Court today said it will decide whether President Obama has the authority to declare that millions of illegal immigrants be allowed to remain and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation, reports the Washington Post. The court likely will hear the case in April, with a ruling before July. It provides the last chance the administration would be able to implement the program Obama announced in 2014, which affects upwards of 4 million people, before he leaves office. The program, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), would allow illegal immigrants in those categories to remain in the country and apply for work permits if they have been here for at least five years and have not committed felonies or repeated misdemeanors.
The administration says the program is simply a way for a government with limited resources to prioritize which illegal immigrants it will move first to deport. The executive action, taken after Congress failed to enact comprehensive immigration reform, was blocked by lower courts when Texas and 25 other Republican-led states sued to stop it. “DAPA is a crucial change in the nation's immigration law and policy—and that is precisely why it could be created only by Congress, rather than unilaterally imposed by the Executive,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told the court.