The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to rule on the legality of executive orders by President Barack Obama that would delay deportation of more than 4 million undocumented immigrants.
Issued in November 2014, the orders sought to allow undocumented persons who are parents of U.S. citizens or of lawful permanent residents to apply for work authorization and associated benefits. Texas and 25 other Republican-led states sued to invalidate the program, arguing the president does “possess enforcement discretion” but lacks “inherent power to grant lawful presence and eligibility for over four million unauthorized aliens,” Texas said in a brief.
A federal judge sided with Texas and the other suing states, and the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the decision. The high court, which announced Jan. 19 its intention to take up the case, is expected to rule by early summer, according to CNN.
The nine justices asked both sides to address whether Obama’s actions violate the Constitution’s provision that the president must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said the administration is “pleased that the Supreme Court has decided to review the immigration case.” She expressed confidence the court will rule in favor of “immigrants who want to be held accountable, to work on the books, to pay taxes and to contribute to our society openly and honestly,” the Journal reported.
Southern Baptists, mirroring the rest of the nation, differ on the proper balance between security and compassion in immigration policy. The last time the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) spoke to immigration was 2011, when a resolution “on immigration and the gospel” called for both compassion to immigrants and border security. Messengers to the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix that year adopted the resolution by what Baptist Press estimated at the time as a 70-80 percent majority.
The resolution noted that “our Lord Jesus Christ lived His childhood years as an immigrant and refugee” and highlighted scripture’s admonitions “to show compassion and justice for the sojourner and alien among us.” The statement also “ask[ed] our governing authorities to prioritize efforts to secure the borders.”
A motion to amend the resolution by striking its call for “a just and compassionate path to legal status” was defeated by a 51-48 margin. Messengers did amend the resolution, at the suggestion of the SBC Resolutions Committee, to state, “This resolution is not to be construed as support for amnesty for any undocumented immigrant.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)