Washington - The US Supreme Court said on Tuesday it will review whether President Barack Obama has the authority to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.
The politically charged case stems from the administration's appeal of lower court rulings that blocked Obama's efforts to reform immigration policy through executive orders.
An estimated four million people in the country illegally whose children are legal residents stand to benefit from the orders, which would allow them to stay and work in the country while their legal status is being resolved.
Determined to circumvent Congress, where immigration reform has long been stalled, Obama announced the measures in November 2014.
Governors of 26 US states - most of them Republicans - challenged the orders as exceeding the president's executive powers and federal courts in Texas and Louisiana put them on hold.
The top US court has not scheduled oral arguments in the case, but it is expected to render a decision in mid-June, with the US election season in full swing.
Immigration has dominated the race for the Republican presidential nomination since frontrunner Donald Trump launched his campaign with accusations that Mexico was sending drug dealers and "rapists" to the United States.
The mere fact that the conservative-leaning court has decided to take up the case is seen as a victory for Obama.