Government & Politics

Immigration Ruling Provides an Opportunity for GOP

A U.S. district judge temporarily blocked Obama's amnesty.

Feb. 18, 2015

U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued an injunction Monday blocking the first phase of Barack Obama’s executive action to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. The amnesty – intended to take effect today – would grant three-year stays of deportation, Social Security numbers and work permits to some illegal aliens, but Hanen declared that Obama exceeded his authority. No kidding.

The Department of Homeland Security “was not given any ‘discretion by law’ to give 4.3 million removable aliens what the DHS itself labels as ‘legal presence,’” Hanen wrote. “In fact, the law mandates that these illegally-present individuals be removed. The DHS has adopted a new rule that substantially changes both the status and employability of millions. These changes go beyond mere enforcement or even non-enforcement of this nation’s immigration scheme.”

The most powerful portion of the decision follows:

“This is not the end of the inquiry; in fact, in this case, it is really the tip of the iceberg. Obviously, this injunction (as long as it’s in place) will prevent the immediate provision of benefits and privileges to millions of individuals who might otherwise be eligible for them in the next several months under DAPA and the extended-DACA. The Court notes that there is no indication that these individuals will otherwise be removed or prosecuted. They have been here for the last five years, and given the humanitarian concerns expressed by [DHS] Secretary [Jeh] Johnson, there is no reason to believe they will be removed now. On the other hand, if the Court denies the injunction and these individuals accept Secretary Johnson’s invitation to come out of the darkness, there may be dire consequences if DAPA is later to be found to be illegal or unconstitutional. The DHS – whether under this administration or the next – will then have all pertinent identifying information for these immigrants and could deport them.”

Obama’s plan, known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), is designed to cover illegal alien parents of “anchor children” (children of illegals born in the U.S.) and legal permanent residents. It includes a three-year stay of deportation, Social Security numbers and work permits to compete legally for jobs. And some 95% of those who applied for the 2012 Dreamer program were approved.

The Obama administration did say, however, that it would honor the ruling until such time as an appeal can be heard by the Fifth Circuit Court.

Obama should have legal difficulty defending his amnesty when he has served as the opposition’s key witness. He has said the president isn’t above the law so many times that House Speaker John Boehner documented 22 such occasions on his website.

For example, Obama once said, “I am not a dictator. I’m the president. … If in fact I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress then I would do so. … I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.”

Now, he says, “I’m confident that it is well within my authority and the tradition of the executive branch’s prosecutorial discretion to execute this policy.”

Thus, Boehner wasn’t surprised by the ruling. Ironically, he bears some responsibility for enabling Obama’s autocratic coup. During December’s lame-duck session, Boehner persuaded reluctant House members to pass an omnibus spending bill to fund Obama’s entire budget for the last nine months of the fiscal year.

But now, the House has passed a funding bill aimed at reining in DHS. Republicans are trying to persuade Senate Democrats not to filibuster, but nothing will change Democrats’ minds. Lacking passage of the bill, DHS will shutdown on Feb. 28.

Despite the fact Democrats in the Senate have filibustered the DHS budget three times, Republicans should use this court decision as an off-ramp for the funding battle because the low-information public does not understand the idiosyncrasies of Senate rules. Democrats are winning the propaganda effort by accusing Republicans of refusing to fund DHS, even though Republicans in the House have funded all of DHS except for Obama’s illegal immigration plans.

Republicans are in the right position but have not successfully made their case to the public. Obama never expected his plan would succeed. He only wanted to blame Republicans for the failure – exactly what he was doing until the court stepped in.

The battle over illegal immigration is coming to a head. After 40 years of fighting – from early skirmishes in the 1970s to California’s Proposition 187 in 1994 to more recent court fights over bilingualism in schools – we may well be headed for a clash at the Supreme Court.

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