Obama’s Executive Order on Immigration Just Got Slapped Down in a Big Way

Immigration2President Obama’s attempt to make unilateral, sweeping reforms in immigration through executive action just took a big hit. Federal District Court Judge Andrew Hanen has ordered the Obama administration to temporarily halt the program, called “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents” or DAPA. The court found the program does not comply with the Administrative Procedures Act.

In a Fox News opinion piece, Jay Sekulow writes:

The decision itself comprehensively demonstrates how the president’s immigration actions impose considerable direct costs on the states (the cost for additional drivers’ licenses alone run into the millions), and the court showed again and again how the administration’s own prior legal arguments cut against its current position.

Critically, the court also found that the Obama administration had essentially “abdicated” its “statutory duties to enforce immigration laws.” As the court explained, “Congress has clearly stated that illegal aliens should be removed…the DHS program circumvents immigration laws and allows individuals that would otherwise be subject to removal to remain in the United States.”

The court’s meaning is clear: The president’s action directly contradicts his legal duty.

On the merits, the court accurately found that DAPA is no mere exercise of “prosecutorial discretion.” As the court said, “Non-enforcement is just that — not enforcing the law. Non-enforcement does not entail refusing to remove these individuals as required by the law and then providing three years of immunity from that law, legal presence status, plus any benefits that may accompany legal presence under current regulations.”

These findings are similar to the arguments I made in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in December and in the ACLJ amicus brief I filed on behalf of 68 Members of Congress, including the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, and both senators from Texas, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.

The court’s meaning is clear: The president’s action directly contradicts his legal duty.

The court went on to note that the administration’s policies represented a “massive change in immigration practice” that would affect “the nation’s entire immigration scheme and the states who must bear the lion’s share of its consequences.”

The administration was claiming expansive discretion when the “detailed and mandatory commands [of applicable law] circumscribe discretion.” The executive branch simply doesn’t have the power to “directly and substantially contravene statutory commands.”

All of this is matter of constitutional common sense. The president can’t disregard his statutory duties simply because he prefers different regulations and has different priorities.

This decision represents a victory for the rule of law, for plain English, and for the core American constitutional concept of the Separation of Powers.

The President of the United States has expressed his impatience with Congress, demanding that it enact comprehensive immigration reforms that advance his own ideological agenda, and when Congress “failed” to follow his commands, he acted unilaterally.

Sekulow goes on to make the point that presidents, no matter how impatient they may be with Congress, do not get to make law.

He also notes that for the first two years of the Obama presidency, the Democrats had a filibuster-proof majority in both houses of Congress, yet he choose not to introduce immigration reform, concentrating instead on Obamacare.

The legal battle over immigration is not over. The President will appeal, and the case will likely go to the Supreme Court for resolution. The case will go next to the Courts of Appeal.

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