Few issues are as emotional—and call upon America’s collective morality—as immigration.
“It makes us special, it makes us strong, it’s makes us Americans.”
The words of a visibly frustrated President Barack Obama in 2014, during his announcement that he had used his executive authority to shield illegal immigrants from deportation after failing to pass a reform bill in Congress.
Two years later, the United States Supreme Court takes up the battle again in The United States versus Texas, which challenges the president’s decision (via executive action) to make four million illegal immigrants legal.
For border states like Texas, the reality of undocumented Mexican children showing up alone with no resources is felt daily. So it is no coincidence that the Texas state attorney general led the charge against Obama’s solution to the country’s growing and ever more complex immigration situation.
And with Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump threatening to send illegal immigrants back home and “build a wall” around U.S. borders, the inevitable tensions around immigration have been stoked to ferverish levels.
All eyes are on the court.
Supreme Court Must Rebuke Obama’s Self-coronation: Texas
Ken Paxton – USA Today
The president, the person we trust to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, has declared illegal conduct to be legal?
But in 2014, President Obama did just that. He declared that four million unlawfully-present immigrants were now lawfully-present. How? Because he says so.
Unfortunately for the president, the Constitution does not let him do that….
In 2011, President Obama understood this. When asked about immigration reform, he addressed his supporters honestly, explaining that “I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own … But that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.”
But in 2014, the president was singing a different tune. He announced to the world, with a flick of his pen on an executive order, “I just took an action to change the law.”
The president had it right the first time. He did not have the power to unilaterally change the law.
On Immigration, Law Is on Obama’s Side
Richard G. Lugar – The New York Times
The immense moral and legal consequences of a deportation campaign targeting up to 11 million undocumented immigrants are obvious….
A huge roundup like that would require an extraordinary expansion of federal law enforcement capabilities and resulting intrusions into American society. But in reality, there is no prospect for such a campaign because Congress has not made available more than a small fraction of the necessary money and manpower.
This is why, by its nature, immigration enforcement requires executive discretion.
The administration’s initiatives allow Homeland Security officials to forgo deportation, on a case-by-case basis, of undocumented residents who came here as children before June 15, 2007, and of certain undocumented parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents. Both are in keeping with similar programs put in place by both Republican and Democratic presidents dating from the Eisenhower administration.
Obama Announces Executive Action on Immigration in 2014:
It’s the Supreme Court’s Turn to Weigh Obama’s Immigration Actions
The Editorial Board – The Los Angeles Times
There are at least 11 million people living in the U.S. without permission, nearly two-thirds of whom have been here for more than a decade.
To track them all down and throw them out would be cruel, inordinately expensive, damaging to communities and disastrous for such labor-heavy businesses as construction, landscaping and food production. Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), another presidential candidate who advocates mass deportations, may not be able to stomach the notion, but those “illegals” have become an inextricable part of American society….
If the Supreme Court tells Texas, et al. that they’re fighting a political battle in the wrong arena, that would send a welcome signal to lawsuit-happy Republicans. But ultimately we would like the court to affirm that the president acted within his powers in deciding whom to target for removal, and whom to give permission to work in the country — powers clearly established in immigration law.