Government & Politics

Could Obama Circumvent Immigration Injunction?

Don't get in his way.

Lewis Morris · Nov. 4, 2015

Word surfaced earlier this week of a leaked internal Department of Homeland Security memo related to a possible White House plan to circumvent a federal court injunction of Barack Obama’s amnesty plans.

The memo was written to cover proceedings at an off-the-record meeting between DHS officials and the Obama administration that took place over the summer. It reveals a series of possible actions discussed by officials to counteract the February decision by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen to block Obama’s executive action to grant amnesty to five million illegal immigrants. That injunction was at least temporarily upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court, with a final ruling expected soon.

Obama’s unilateral move to grant three-year stays of deportation, Social Security numbers, and work permits to illegal aliens far exceeded his authority — as even he admitted on numerous occasions before doing so anyway. Hanen ruled in favor of 26 states contesting that DHS “was not given any ‘discretion by law’ to give 4.3 million removable aliens what the DHS itself labels as ‘legal presence.’”

Hanen went on to add that the actions of DHS and the Obama administration could actually bring more harm than good to the immigrants they seek to absolve. “[I]f the Court denies the injunction and these individuals accept [DHS] Secretary [Jeh] Johnson’s invitation to come out of the darkness,” Hanen warned, “there may be dire consequences if DAPA is later found to be illegal or unconstitutional. The DHS … will then have all the pertinent identifying information for these immigrants and could deport them.”

Obama has never been a fan of following rules that don’t fit his plans. The powwow that took place over the summer demonstrates this in that administration officials came up with four separate action plans to circumvent the court’s injunction. Each option varies in scope from allowing select temporary non-immigrant visas to distributing blanket Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) to millions of illegal aliens.

The idea that Obama would contemplate opening the flood gates to illegal immigrants shouldn’t exactly come as much of a shock. Talk of such an action in the waning days of his presidency has circled the Beltway for years. But is this internal DHS memo an action plan to fundamentally change the makeup of the country, or is it more of a research study laying out a series of options?

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air says it’s more likely the latter. For example, he points out that the pan to mass distribute EADs would be a poor one if it were meant to offer amnesty. An EAD isn’t a green card or a visa, it’s simply a work permit and it doesn’t resolve illegal status. And as stated by Judge Hanen, it would actually make illegals easier to find.

The memo may offer some scenarios for unconstitutional actions by the Obama administration, but it’s light on actual policy prescriptions that lead to a way around Hanen’s stay order. Not that Obama is to be trusted on immigration. House Speaker Paul Ryan said as much this week. And Obama’s team proved it earlier this year when it was revealed that the administration had granted more than 100,000 work permits to illegals while the case was being reviewed by the courts. This subterfuge played a big role in Hanen’s decision to issue an injunction and make it stick.

Where the case will go now may depend on just how far the Obama administration is willing to go to get its way.

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