Obama administration asks top court to revive immigration plan

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Obama Has Immigration Battle In Sight

The Obama administration on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revive President Barack Obama's executive action to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, saying Republican-led states had no legal basis to challenge it.

EXPLORE MORE: Listen to The Rewind for the week's top news and buzzy stories

Exactly a year to the day after Obama announced the plan, the Justice Department formally appealed a 2-1 decision on Nov. 9 by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that affirmed a lower court's February decision to halt it.

If the appeals court ruling is left in place, millions of people would "continue to work off the books, without the option of lawful employment to provide for their families," Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said in the filing to the nine justices.

See current events concerning immigration:

42 PHOTOS
(MAIN) 2016 issues: Immigration politics includes Syria
See Gallery
Obama administration asks top court to revive immigration plan
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 15: About fifty pro-immigration reform demonstrators gathered for a rally outside the United States Supreme Court January 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. Organized by immigraiton advocacy group CASA, the demonstrators called on the Supreme Court to take up and overrule a lower court's ruling against President Barack Obama's 2014 immigration executive actions, including the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) guidelines. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 15: About fifty pro-immigration reform demonstrators gathered for a rally outside the United States Supreme Court January 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. Organized by immigraiton advocacy group CASA, the demonstrators called on the Supreme Court to take up and overrule a lower court's ruling against President Barack Obama's 2014 immigration executive actions, including the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) guidelines. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2015 file photo, Ingrid Vaca, originally of Bolivia speaks during rally for immigration reform in front of the White House in Washington. The Supreme Court has agreed to an election-year review of President Barack Obamaâs executive orders to allow up to 5 million immigrants to âcome out of the shadowsâ and work legally in the U.S. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Demonstrators gather outside the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, calling for an end to Homeland Security Department immigration raids and a commitment from the White House to 'address the damage already inflicted on these communities.' (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Members of CASA de Maryland participate in a immigration rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. The Supreme Court has agreed to an election-year review of President Barack Obamaâs plan to allow up to 5 million immigrants to âcome out of the shadowsâ and work legally in the U.S. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 15: About fifty pro-immigration reform demonstrators gathered for a rally outside the United States Supreme Court January 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. Organized by immigraiton advocacy group CASA, the demonstrators called on the Supreme Court to take up and overrule a lower court's ruling against President Barack Obama's 2014 immigration executive actions, including the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) guidelines. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A lone counter -protester, James MacDonald stands on the curb declaring the opposite of the rally's message - Mr. MacDonald objects the proposed U.S. asylum for 10,000 refugees on the basis of security concerns. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A protester holds a sign at the rally. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A trio of demonstrators hold signs in English and in Arabic at the rally. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A demonstrator holds a flag declaring 'Refugees Welcome.' A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A demonstrator holds a sign displaying the famed image of a Syrian refugee child found dead on the shore. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: Sculptures of bodies wrapped in burial cloths are placed at the center of the rally as a reminder of the deaths of Syrian refugees. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: Sarab Al-Jijakli, a Syrian-American New Yorker who helped to organize the rally, addresses the crowd. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A demonstrator holds a sign condemning the United Nations. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/09/12: A Syrian-American child stands in front of a banner at the rally. A collection of activists featuring members on MENA Solidarity Network staged a rally in Union Square to demand increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian refugee crisis, underscoring that the recent Obama administration proposal for the U.S. to grant refugee status to 10,000 Syrians is far from adequate. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
In this video frame grab image from U.S. Senate Television, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., displays a photo of the body of a three year-old Syrian refugee as he urged stronger leadership from President Barack Obama on Syria, on the Senate floor, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015 at the Capitol in Washington. McCain stood next to an enlarged, close-up photo of Aylan Kurdi, who drowned on a voyage with his family. He said the photo has "opened the world’s eye to this devastating crisis." (US Senate Television via AP)
Immigrant rights advocate Angel Padilla, a health care policy analyst for the National Immigration Law Center, poses for a portrait at the center, Friday Sept. 11, 2015, in Washington. A change in government procedures has led to a big jump in people losing coverage under the Obama health care law because of immigration and citizenship issues. Padilla, the center’s health policy analyst, said it defies common sense that that many immigrants without legal authorization to be in the country would risk alerting a federal agency by applying for taxpayer-subsidized benefits. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
NORWOOD, MA - AUGUST 28: Protestors held signs outside Ernie Boch Jr.'s mansion in Norwood during a political fund-raiser for Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
In this Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, photo, devotees participate in events at the Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple that serves the Asian Indian community in Frisco, Texas. Immigrants from China and India, many with student or work visas, have overtaken Mexicans as the largest groups coming into the U.S., according to U.S Census Bureau. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
In this photo made Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, Ailu Xu, a graduate student from China, posts a sign directing Chinese students to a new student orientation meeting at the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson, Texas. The U.S. Census Bureau research shows immigrants from China and India, many with student or work visas, have overtaken Mexicans as the largest groups coming into the U.S. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 20: GOP Presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., delivers a speech on his immigration policy at the National Press Club in Washington on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
An immigrant from Honduras who entered the United States illegally wears an ankle monitor as she sweeps the floor during her stay at a respite house, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in San Antonio. Immigration authorities have banned two lawyers from the nation's largest immigrant family detention center, saying they violated standards. But a coalition of immigration attorneys says the moves are unprecedented and is fighting to rescind the bans as part of its ongoing effort to improve access to clients, a key factor in whether asylum cases are allowed to proceed. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
MCALLEN, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on August 7, 2015 in McAllen, Texas. The state's Rio Grande Valley corridor is the busiest illegal border crossing into the United States. Border security and immigration have become major issues in the U.S. presidential campaigns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Julian Zatarain poses for a photo at Huntington Park City Hall, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Huntington Park, Calif. Zatarain, 21, who is in the country illegally, was sworn in Monday to a position with the parks and recreation commission in the city. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 2: Kham Bhattarai, from Nepal, takes the oath during the naturalization ceremony August 2, 2015 at Parkfield Lake Park. 29 immigrants took the oath to become citizens of the United States of America during a naturalization ceremony that took place during the 3rd Annual Taste of Ethiopia. (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Immigration protesters rally in front of a venue where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was due to speak before a crowd of 3,500 Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Vicente Mayorga, left, holds a sign next to Dominican immigrant Angela Lopez, front center, of Long Island, N.Y., as she stands with her sons Gabriel, left, and Adrian in front of Macy's Herald Square flagship store, Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in New York. Lopez and Mayorga joined other immigrants and politicians in calling on corporations and businesses to boycott presidential candidate Donald Trump after his remarks about Mexican immigrants. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Students rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol to support House Bill 1403 which allows students regardless of their immigration status to qualify for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities if they meet the requirements, Thursday, May 21, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Demonstrators chant slogans during a National Day of Action to #Fight4DAPA rally, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, in New York. The demonstrators are demanding the end of a lawsuit that blocks a program to protect from deportation, parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - MARCH 25: A group of immigrants rights activists stage demonstration, supporting 'Dream Act' in New York, United States on March 25, 2015. Dream Act, currently on state's assembly brings education support to illegal immigrants' children. The activist announced that they will be start hunger strike if the act will not pass the lawmakers. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Brochures warning of immigration scams are displayed at the United Farm Workers Foundation offices in Bakersfield, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 19, 2015. President Barack Obama announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in November as a response to Congress' unwillingness to update a policy that both parties agree is flawed. Recipients would enter the formal economy with work permits and Social Security numbers, creating a legal workforce for businesses, greater security for themselves and revenue for government coffers. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 18: Immigrants attend a workshop for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), on February 18, 2015 in New York City. The immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York holds weekly workshops to help immigrants get legal status under DACA to work in the United States. An expansion of the national program, scheduled for this week, was frozen by a ruling from a Texas federal judge. The Obama Administration plans to appeal the ruling and, if sussessful, DACA would allow legalization of up to two million immigrants who entered the United States before they were age 16. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - FEBRUARY 18: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (L) and Governor Greg Abbott hold a joint press conference February 18, 2015 in Austin, Texas. The press conference addressed the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas' decision on the lawsuit filed by a Texas-led coalition of 26 states challenging President Obama's executive action on immigration. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
HOMESTEAD, FL - FEBRUARY 17: A newly sworn in United States citizen holds her paperwork during a naturalization ceremony put on by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Biscayne National Park on February 17, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. The ceremony saw roughly 150 people, primarily children, sworn in from countries around the globe such as China, Philippines and Cuba. among others. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 10: Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., greets Heather Pina-Ledezma, 6, during a news conference in the Capitol with families impacted by President Obama's executive action on undocumented immigrants and to call on Republicans to pass immigration legislation, December 10, 2014. Heather's mother Madai is from Mexico but Heather was born in Annapolis. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Pro-immigration demonstrators walk to the White House as they participate in a vigil to support children fleeing violence in Central America to come to the United States, sponsored by the Central American Resource Center, during a rally in Lafayette Park near the White House in Washington, DC, November 24, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 21: Immigrants rights activists gather to celebrate U.S. President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration policy in Washington Square Park on November 21, 2014 in New York City. Obama announced a plan on Thursday that would ease the threat of deportation for about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 21: An anti-immigration demonstrator moves among about 100 people who have gathered to rally in support of President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration policy in Lafayette Square across from the White House November 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama announced a plan on Thursday that would ease the threat of deportation for about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Demonstrators with the groups National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Workers United of Washington and the #Not1More Campaign, protest an increase in deportations and US President Barack Obama's immigration policies outside the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Gala Dinner at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, October 2, 2014. Obama is scheduled to speak at the dinner. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA OCTOBER 3, 2014 -- Axel Paredes, 40, an immigrant (undocumented) worker who has been in the US for 10 years celebrates with supporters the passage of AB 60, which will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses starting in January 2015 outside city hall Friday, October 3, 2014.. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
MURRIETA, CA - JULY 7: Anti-immigration activists protest outside of the U.S. Border Patrol Murrieta Station on July 7, 2014 in Murrieta, California. Immigration protesters have staged rallies in front of the station for about a week in response to a wave of undocumented immigrant children caught along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas and transported to the Murrieta facility while awaiting deportation proceedings. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
MURRIETA, CA - JULY 7: Immigrant rights activist Mary Estrada (R) speaks with anti-immigration activists during a protest outside of the U.S. Border Patrol Murrieta Station on July 7, 2014 in Murrieta, California. Immigration protesters have staged rallies in front of the station for about a week in response to a wave of undocumented immigrant children caught along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas and transported to the Murrieta facility while awaiting deportation proceedings. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Obama's executive order would let up to 4.7 million illegal immigrants live in the United States without the threat of deportation. It was directed at people with no criminal records whose children are U.S. citizens.

Verrilli wrote that the Supreme Court should hear the case because the appeals court "upheld an unprecedented nationwide injunction against implementing a federal immigration enforcement policy of great national importance."

If left intact, the ruling would "allow states to frustrate the federal government's enforcement of the nation's immigration laws," Verrilli added.

The legal challenge was made by 26 Republican-governed states led by Texas that contend Obama overstepped his presidential powers by bypassing the Republican-led Congress and acting unilaterally.

The states have no legal standing to sue the U.S. government over decisions on how to enforce federal laws, the administration said in its appeal.

A spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the state will "continue defending the rule of law" against "the president's unconstitutional use of executive power."

The administration had said on Nov. 10 that it planned an appeal. The justices will consider whether to hear the case once they receive responses from the states, due within 30 days.

SEE ALSO: Tapped phone led Paris attack leader to his death

If they hear the dispute, it would become one of the centerpiece cases of the court's term that runs through June, along with a challenge to a restrictive Texas abortion law.

Two hours after the appeal was lodged, dozens of immigration advocates rallied in front of the Supreme Court building, chanting in English and Spanish and waving placards. One read, "Children have the right to be with their parents."

Separately, the appeals court on Thursday allowed three illegal immigrant women from Texas to participate in the case in support of the administration.

Obama's executive order, which came after a bipartisan immigration policy overhaul bill passed by the Senate died in the House of Representatives, expanded a program first launched in 2012 that deferred deportation for immigrants brought to the United States as children.

The immigration issue has driven a wedge between Hispanics, a voting bloc with rising clout, and Republicans, many of whom take a hard line against illegal immigrants. Most of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants are Hispanic.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

More from AOL:
Six Americans recovered from Mali hotel under attack, Obama briefed
NYC woman donates entire toy store to homeless children
Ancient lion cubs found in permafrost of the 'coldest city on Earth'

Read Full Story

People are Reading