The Justice Department said Wednesday that it will not make an emergency request for the Supreme Court to lift an appellate court ruling that temporarily blocks President Obama's executive action on immigrant amnesty. However, a top White House official acknowledged Thursday that the case could ultimately end up before the highest court in the nation.
"We think that the case that we're arguing in July may ultimately get to the Supreme Court - the challenge is that if we were to appeal this stay, the decision that happened this week, one way or the other, whether the government won or lost, we would still have this other argument to make, and people would not have the certainty that they need in order to benefit from this program," Cecilia Muñoz, director of the Domestic Policy Council, said on MSNBC's "The Rundown with Jose Diaz-Balart," according to the Washington Times.
"So this is about making sure we are fighting vigorously, winning this case on the merits so that when the time comes that we're implementing this program, people can be sure that it's not [going to] get further entangled in litigation."
In February, after a coalition of 26 states filed a lawsuit claiming Obama's illegal immigrant amnesty program actions would cause the states irreversible economic harm, a Texas federal judge ordered the controversial program be temporarily halted until the case can be decided.
The Obama administration appealed the injunction to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which on Tuesday ruled 2-1 against lifting the hold, arguing that the "public interest favors maintenance of the injunction," according to The Hill.
Two Republican-appointed judges, Jennifer Elrod and Jerry Smith, said the order should remain because the states made a compelling argument that the immigration programs would inflict irreparable harm if enacted. Granting deportation relief to large groups of illegal immigrants also goes beyond President Obama's "prosecutorial discretion," according to The Hill.
The Justice Department responded saying that rather than making an emergency request to the Supreme Court to lift the order, the administration will focus on the appeal of the injunction at the 5th Circuit. The case is expected to proceed in July.
"It's very important to provide certainty, that if people are going to be coming forward to apply for something, they're [going to] need to know that it's not [going to] get tangled up in the courts," Muñoz, according to the Times.
"So that's really the theory undergirding the legal strategy that the Justice Department announced yesterday," Muñoz added. "The president's [going to] continue to fight for this vigorously because it's the right thing for the country, because it's absolutely within his authority under the law, and it's also the right thing for keeping families together and upholding our values in this country."