The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will take up a case challenging the legality of President Barack Obama’s executive actions aimed at granting quasi-legal status and work permits to up to five million people who entered the U.S. illegally as children or who have children who are American citizens.
The high court’s widely-expected move gives Obama a chance to revive a key legacy item that has been in limbo for nearly a year, since a federal judge in Texas issued an order halting immigration moves the president announced just after the 2014 midterm elections.
The justices are expected to hear arguments on the issue in April and to hand down a ruling by the end of June. Illegal immigration has already been a hot topic in the presidential contest, but the high-profile attention brought on by the Supreme Court fight could amp up the debate even further as the campaign plays out this spring and summer.
If the court rules in Obama’s favor, his administration will have a relatively short, seven-month window to try to roll out the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the new initiative called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. While advocacy groups are eager to have illegal immigrants apply for the programs, there are questions about how many will do so if they’re debuted or expanded so close to the end of Obama’s presidency.