April 26, 2016 - Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller said the state's U.S. Supreme Court case contesting President Barack Obama's immigration reform policy has little to do with deportation, and that it is meant to challenge an executive order that grants temporary legal status to immigrants in the country illegally.
Keller visited the University of Houston Law Center for a discussion hosted by the Federalist Society on April 21, three days after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the United States v. Texas case.
Keller attempted to clear up what he thought were misconceptions about the case. He said the lawsuit was filed because Obama's order would grant undocumented immigrants legal status and would make them eligible for benefits such as driver's licenses, unemployment, Medicare, Social Security, and earned income tax credits.
"I think one of the most misunderstood aspects of the case is that this was a challenge about deportability or removability, and it's not," Keller said. "The issue here is the President's DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability) memorandum. It was issued Nov. 20, 2014, right after midterm elections. It would allow about 4,000,000 unauthorized aliens to be eligible for deferred action and work authorization. The memo said that deferred action means lawful presence in the country."
The Texas Solicitor General's office was established in 1999 by then-Texas Attorney General and now U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, and is dedicated to appellate litigation.
"Our office, like the U.S. Solicitor General's Office, focuses on a specific type of high-profile, complex appellate cases," Keller said.
Before becoming solicitor general, Keller worked as chief counsel to Sen. Ted Cruz for two years. Keller earned his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 2007 and clerked for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
"I hope that attendees came away with some insight on Texas' cases in front of the Supreme Court and also into practicing before the Supreme Court," Law Center student Mack Wilson said. "I think it's great for the Federalist Society to have speakers that have special insight into the legal issues that students care about."