Ivania Castillo and immigrant advocacy groups rallied outside the Supreme Court, calling on the justices to rule in favor of President Obama’s stalled deportation-relief proposal and threatening to hold accountable Republican governors who so far have blocked it. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)

Immigrant advocacy groups rallied Friday outside the Supreme Court, calling on the justices to rule in favor of President Obama’s stalled deportation-re­lief proposal and threatening to hold accountable the Republican governors who so far have blocked it.

The rally, and similar gatherings across the country, marked the anniversary of Obama’s announcement that he would take executive action to defer deportations for qualified parents of U.S.-born children and for certain younger undocumented immigrants.

The programs, which could benefit as many as 5 million people, have been roundly criticized by Republican presidential contenders who oppose any path to legal residency for those who came here illegally.

Neither program has been implemented because of the legal challenge filed by the governors, who said Obama was overstepping his authority and unduly burdening states. An appeals court ruled in favor of the governors last week. On Friday, the Obama administration appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

“We are not yet implementing the executive order because of the decision of the 26 Republican governors,” Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA in Maryland, said outside the high court on Friday. “We are never going to forget who are they.”

Here are highlights from President Obama's speech on immigration, in which he outlined his executive action that would shield as many as 4 million illegal immigrants from deportation. (Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)

Jaime Contreras, a Service Employees International Union leader in the Washington area, called for Latinos to come out in record numbers to defeat Republican candidates and politicians who have opposed paths to legalization for undocumented immigrants.

“Right now, it is in the Supreme Court’s hands to make this right for our communities,” Contreras said. “Ultimately, we know it’s in our hands, and we are going to come out and vote in larger numbers than we have before.”

The legal battle has left hundreds of thousands of families in limbo. Many are eager to apply for deportation relief if Obama’s program is declared constitutional. They would be eligible for legal status that would allow them to get full driver’s licenses, work permits and other benefits not available to undocumented immigrants.

But with the next presidential election less than a year away, advocates say time is running out. For that reason, immigrant rights groups are also trying to pressure Obama to take other action against deportations while he remains in office.

The rally outside the Supreme Court was organized by CASA of Maryland, a nonprofit immigrant service agency, as well as other labor and community groups.

About 200 people, many wearing white CASA hats, gathered in a circle and lined up on the sidewalk, shouting, “Yes, we can,” and displaying signs calling for “No más hate” (No more hate).

Several people held up a canvas that featured a hand-painted U.S. flag and the last line of the Pledge of Allegiance: “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Elizabeth Rodriguez, a 21-year-old Baltimore resident, said she came to the rally because her cousins and her husband’s family are living in the country without legal permission.

“It’s scary for them,” she said. “We got all the papers together, ready to be prepared just in case it did go through. Now we just have the papers sitting at home waiting for the Supreme Court.”

Luis Aguilar, 27, said he got his driver’s license two years ago and was able to attend community college thanks to an earlier relief program for immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children. The Alexandria, Va., resident said that he joined CASA to make sure other immigrants have a chance for the same relief.

“Most importantly,” Aguilar said, “it’s just the freedom that gives your mind peace to stop worrying about prosecution and being deportable.”