On Monday 113 Republicans in Congress joined in the court battle over President Obama’s latest moves to give amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Texas and 5 other states have challenged the legality of Obama’s unilateral actions, arguing that the president has gone too far with his attempts to accomplish his immigration goals with executive power alone, He has halted deportations and granted work permits to certain groups of illegal immigrants.
The Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (Va.), are siding squarely with the states, arguing Obama’s executive action “changes the law and sets a new policy, exceeding the executive’s constitutional authority and disrupting the delicate balance of powers.”
“Congress has created a comprehensive immigration scheme — which expresses its desired policy as to classes of immigrants — but the class identified by the [Homeland Security Department] directive for categorical relief is unsupported by this scheme,” the lawmakers wrote in an amicus brief filed with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
“Instead of setting enforcement priorities,” they added, “it created a class-based program that establishes eligibility requirements that, if met, grant unlawful immigrants a renewable lawful presence in the United States and substantive benefits.”
The amicus brief was endorsed by 113 Republicans, including Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz from Texas, Representatives Trey Gowdy (SC), Tom Price (GA), Michael McCaul (TX) chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Lamar Smith (TX) the former chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
The court fight centers on two executive actions taken by Obama shortly after November’s midterm elections. One, called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program halts deportations and gives work permits to the parents of U .S. citizens and permanent legal residents. The other expands Obama’s 2012 program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative to a greater number of immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as kids. Combined, the programs defer deportation for more than 4 million illegal immigrants.
The states sued the administration over those programs, arguing that they mark a case of illegal executive overreach that would saddle them with exorbitant new costs.
In February U .S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of Brownsville, Texas found that the states had legitimate standing to bring their case. He blocked the programs temporarily for what he said was a violation of the federal law allowing public comment when new rules are established. His initial decision prevented the administration from moving forward with the programs, including the processing of applications.
Last Thursday, the plot thickened. President Obama’s lawyers admitted that they had broken the court’s February 16th injunction that halted the administration’s amnesty and issued thousands of work permits even after Judge Hanen had ordered the program stopped. Judge Hanen has not yet ruled, but administration lawyers are facing sanctions for their continued problems in arguing the case.
Justice Department lawyers admitted that an immigration agency had approved about 2,000 applications for three-year work permits. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had repeatedly assured Congress that they had halted the program and were complying with the court order. Sen. Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said “The last time I checked, injunctions are not mere suggestions. They are not optional.: He has written to Sec. Johnson asking the department to turn over all its communications about implementing the three-year policy.
The article from The Hill oddly omits any mention of the ‘little slip-up’ by Justice Department lawyers and the Department of Homeland Security in issuing thousands of work permits in direct violation of the court injunction.
President Obama has decided that he can ignore our immigration laws, apparently because he didn’t learn anything in law school, or because he confuses the powers and duties of the presidency with other of the world’s dictators, or he just believes that no one can stop him. Stay tuned.This whole thing is going to get a lot more interesting.
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