POLITICS

Texas wants more time in immigration appeal, making ruling during Obama's term unlikely

  • With President Barack Obama's action running out of time to temporarily protect up to five million unauthorized immigrants from deportation, supporters of the measure to keep families together rally at the Supreme Court  in Washington, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court for a speedy decision on his policy which allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    With President Barack Obama's action running out of time to temporarily protect up to five million unauthorized immigrants from deportation, supporters of the measure to keep families together rally at the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court for a speedy decision on his policy which allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • FILE - In this March 23, 2015, file photo, Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller speaks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington. Keller asked the Supreme Court Monday for more time to answer the Obama administration's immigration appeal, a delay that probably would prevent the plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation from taking effect during Barack Obama's presidency. The administration is opposing the request for a 30-day delay, Keller said in his letter to the court. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

    FILE - In this March 23, 2015, file photo, Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller speaks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington. Keller asked the Supreme Court Monday for more time to answer the Obama administration's immigration appeal, a delay that probably would prevent the plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation from taking effect during Barack Obama's presidency. The administration is opposing the request for a 30-day delay, Keller said in his letter to the court. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

Texas asked the Supreme Court Monday for more time to answer the Obama administration's immigration appeal, a delay that probably would prevent the plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation from taking effect during Barack Obama's presidency.

If the justices agree to the state's request, the administration's plan would miss the court's informal deadline for a decision by the end of June. The plan that Obama unveiled a year ago mainly affects people who are living in the country illegally, but who have children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

Unless the court was to take the rare step of scheduling an argument in May, the issue would not be heard by the justices until the fall or decided before spring 2017.

The administration is opposing the request for a 30-day delay, Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said. "The case presents issues of national importance and the department believes it should be considered expeditiously," Rodenbush said.

It is not unusual for a party to request that a deadline be pushed back, and the other side often does not object.

But timing is everything in the immigration case.

If the court turns Texas down, agrees to hear the case and decides it by June, and if the justices side with the administration, that would leave roughly seven months in Obama's presidency to implement his plans.

Texas and 25 other states, almost all led by Republicans, sued in federal court to challenge the immigration plan roughly two weeks after it was unveiled. The states have won every round in court so far, including a Nov. 5 ruling from the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Justice Department chose not to ask the high court to block those earlier rulings and allow the plan to take effect pending a final court decision in the case. On the other hand, the administration's allies said the appeals court effectively tried to run out the clock by taking much longer than usual to issue its opinion.

Dissenting Judge Carolyn Dineen King lent some credence to their complaint by taking note of "the extended delay that has occurred in deciding" the case.

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