What Happens Now That the Obama Administration Has Lost Its Immigration Case

The case could go before the Supreme Court as early as next spring.

ByABC News
November 10, 2015, 1:45 PM

— -- An appeals courts has blocked President Obama from protecting an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States illegally but who are otherwise law-abiding.

The appeals court on Monday night struck down instructions from the Obama administration to concentrate deportation activities on criminals, while allowing those brought to the U.S. as children and undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen parents and no criminal history to remain in the country without fear of deportation and the ability to work.

It’s another blow to President Obama’s immigration initiative he announced almost a year ago.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the presidential Executive Actions, which gave millions the ability to work legally, were unconstitutional.

The administration argued the expanded authority was within its rights for proprietorial discretion, while Republicans criticized the administration for overreaching and argued that the decision is not within the president’s constitutional authority. This led to 26 states challenging the plan in Texas court.

The administration took action last November to keep families together after Congress was unable to pass a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill.

The White House, through the Department of Justice, announced today that the administration will “seek further review from the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Despite the court ruling, Obama administration said it will continue to focus on deporting undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes, and will not change its policy to leave law-abiding undocumented immigrants with their families.

"Given limits Republicans in Congress have put in place, they’re going to focus on those who pose a threat to community or national security," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said today, noting that the focus should be on those who have committed serious crimes, such as murder and aggravated robbery.

The main effect is that those 5 million immigrants affected by the ruling will not be allowed a path to legal status and must remain living in shadows.

It has not been determined if the administration will ask for an expedited hearing, meaning a decision could come by next spring or summer in advance of the 2016 election.

The administration could file with the court in a matter of weeks or even days, according to ABC News Supreme Court Contributor Kate Shaw, and if Texas responds quickly, arguments would almost certainly be heard this spring. If Texas requested an extension or otherwise delayed, the Supreme Court justices would likely not hear the case until next fall.

“On timing, move one belongs to the Department of Justice, while move two belongs to Texas,” Shaw explained. “If everyone is quick, we'll almost certainly have the case heard in the Supreme Court this spring, decided in late June.”

However, if everyone is not quick, it would mean the case would not be heard until fall, deep into the presidential election season.