Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Immigration lawsuit: Is it justified?

Matthew Cohen

Boehner’s frivolous, wasteful lawsuit

House Republicans have a long track record of wasting taxpayer dollars. First, they voted to repeal the Obamacare over 50 times knowing that the legislation was dead upon arrival in the Democratic Senate. They then proceeded to shut down the federal government in 2013 because they wanted to defund the Affordable Care Act. Now, they are at it again. Speaker Boehner announced last week that House Republicans will use taxpayer dollars to sue the President for issuing several executive orders to address the immigration crisis.

Last year, President Obama announced a series of executive orders to defer the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants and devote resources to deporting illegal immigrants who are committing crime within the United States. A senior official in the Obama Administration said, “We’re going to be focused on deporting felons, not families.”

This is a sound policy. The United States should differentiate between people who are committing crime and parents who are raising families in the United States. Illegal immigrant felons pose a greater threat to Americans than illegal immigrants who have only committed the crime of illegally immigrating to the America. The Department of Homeland Security has a limited number of resources, and those resources should be spent on deporting people that actually pose a threat to Americans.

These actions are within the scope of the Department of Homeland Security. The executive orders do not grant amnesty for any illegal immigrant in the United States. On the contrary, the orders merely direct the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize deporting criminals before deporting families that have been here for years, if not decades.

In addition to seeking the removal of a good policy, Mr. Boehner’s lawsuit is frivolous and wasteful for two reasons. First, House Republicans are attacking President Obama for something that his Republican and Democratic predecessors did without any substantial objection. Second, House Republicans could have and still can solve President Obama’s alleged executive overreach by passing a law fixing this country’s immigration process.

Secondly, over the past six decades all Presidents, including Republicans, have in some form or another protected certain illegal immigrants from deportation. For example, President Bush Sr. issued an executive order deferring the deportation of spouses and children of people who illegally came to the United States. This affected over 40 percent of the total illegal immigrant population in the United States.

By declaring President Obama’s executive orders unconstitutional, House Republicans are advocating for the status quo that would endanger more Americans. The status quo does not permit the Department of Homeland Security from prioritizing the deportation of violent criminals over non-violent illegal immigrants. Moreover, many current House Republicans were in Congress while George W. Bush was President and remained silent on his executive actions regarding immigration. The big difference between then and now is that a Democrat now occupies the White House. These facts indicate that this Republican lawsuit is a gimmick that will be used to score political points against the President. It is disappointing that House Republicans are using taxpayer dollars to fund their political theater. Ironically, the House Republicans are largely to blame for the current state of affairs.

In 2013, the U.S. Senate passed an overwhelmingly bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill. Unfortunately, Mr. Boehner did not even allow the House to vote on the bill. Since then, House Republicans have only proposed extreme alternatives that only got several Democratic votes. As these propositions are devoid of practical, bipartisan solutions to a major problem, House Republicans give President Obama no choice. There are more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, and President Obama cannot remain idle on this issue. During President Bush’s term, he too noted that Congressional inaction warrants unilateral executive action.

In sum, Mr. Boehner should stop wasting hard-earned taxpayer dollars to solve his political problems. If he wants to fix immigration, he should propose bipartisan, practical legislation to do so. Until then, he will continue to be part of the problem, not the solution.

Contact Matthew Cohen at mcohen18 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Johnathan Bowes

Illegal action on illegal immigration

Back in November, a few weeks after his party lost control of the Senate for the first time in his presidency, President Obama decided to tackle our nation’s problem with illegal immigration by himself. To that end, he announced an executive order that he claimed as necessary fix some of the problems faced by the over 11 million illegal immigrants (the term “illegal” used here purposefully) living in the United States. The order officially does five things to further the idea of immigration reform: It 1) expands the eligibility requirements and time limit of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, 2) creates a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program, 3) eases some requirements for receiving a provisional waiver against deportation, 4) improves how visas are allocated and distributed and 5) makes it easier for immigrants here legally to become naturalized citizens.

The quandary of immigration reform definitely needs to see some sort of resolution under this Congress, if not during this year’s legislative session. And on the whole, the ideas laid out in Obama’s executive order constitute some pretty good policy moves for dealing with the immigration issue. But regardless of how good the ideas in the order might be, a huge problem exists with the entire executive order: It’s unconstitutional. As such, the courts must strike it down.

The Constitution our federal government operates under divides power between the three branches of government, with “all legislative powers” granted to Congress and a few executive powers to the President (who, in turn, delegates some responsibilities to executive agencies, such as the Citizenship and Immigration Services wing of the Department of Homeland Security). In essence, that means that Congress must be the body that makes laws, and the President must be the one who enforces them.

One thing that the President does not have the authority to do, however, is alter existing laws. That power falls into the set of legislative powers granted to Congress, and it belongs to Congress alone. And that fact does not change based on how gridlocked or divided that body may act. Even with the most polarized of Congresses, the President simply cannot issue an executive order as a means of bypassing the legislative branch. Doing so lies entirely outside of the constitutional authority of the Presidency, and doing so flies in the face of the spirit of the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, many Republicans in Congress and over half of the states in the Union have come to this conclusion, too; as such, they have decided to file lawsuits against President Obama for violating the Constitution and overstepping his bounds. Republicans during the 113th Congress filed a similar suit regarding Obama’s changes to his namesake health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which his administration has routinely altered and amended without Congressional approval. Although that lawsuit has not yet been decided, it seems that Speaker Boehner has higher expectations for this latest suit.

And he should. The Supreme Court has been intriguingly aligned with the majority of the population when it comes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or, often, Obamacare), due perhaps to the issues at stake falling into legal grey spaces. Just as the law appears to have mixed reviews around the country (with about 51 percent opposing it, compared to about 40 percent supporting it, according to a RealClearPolitics poll), SCOTUS has come across as narrowly divided and mixed on Obamacare as well, particularly with National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and Hobby Lobby v. Burwell. The Supreme Court will again take up the law in King v. Burwell, but how it rules seems unclear.

The issue of Obama’s executive action on immigration, however, avoids much of the legal and constitutional murk of the various cases about the ACA. The only question that the suit will bring before the Court is that of the extent of presidential power — not about the authorial intent of Congress in a law and not about whether to construe a certain provision of a law as a tax. The case, as Speaker Boehner rightly points out, has nothing to do with illegal immigration in and of itself: It does not hinge on considering what constitutionally-protected rights illegal immigrants have or what sort of legal considerations must be made for them. The courts, in this case, must only consider where the line lies between the authority of the President and the enumerated powers of Congress.

In considering that question, the courts should arrive at no other conclusion than that the executive order violates the Constitution. And once they do, we can get back to working on the issues of illegal immigration through the proper channels.

Contact Johnathan Bowes at jbowes ‘at’ stanford.edu.

  • Ironweeds

    Yes, it is justified. Obama has already called Hispanics the “new face” of the nation, and he is doing everything he can to give them what the country works hard for.

  • skullbreathe

    I look forward to Mr. Cohen’s thoughts on the next Republican President’s unilateral ‘changes’ to environmental, tax and labor laws because of the perceived intransigence by the Executive branch of Congress. Whether you’re a Democrat, Independent or Republican you should be horrified of the power coalescing in the Executive branch under Obama. Our constitutional ideals were never intended for this much power in one branch of government. All POTUS’s have it difficult. The excuse of Congressional delay or “it’s hard” doesn’t cut it and frankly our Founders set-up our government accordingly so change would be hard and one supported by all the people, not just those in power who control the Executive branch..

  • Legal immigrant Stanford alumn

    The so called “executive action” pushed forward by Obama is a mockery to every person who has come to the US legally, like yours truly, and has had to wait years in the line to get first a greencard, then US citizenship.
    This action grants to millions of illegal immigrants “de facto” greencard. For the illiterate liberal defenders of Obama, most people who wait in the line for a greencard are in so called “non immigrant” status, that allows them to do only one thing: study (case of F-1) or work for a particular company doing a particular thing (case of H1B or J-1). The Obama action gives these illegals a universal work permit that allows them to stay in the country and do whatever they want to do.
    While I am not sure a 14th amendment “equal protection” clause can be made in the case of immigrants, this action unfairly discriminates legal immigrants by giving illegal immigrants un unfair advantage. It is morally wrong and I hope the courts declare it legally wrong as well.

  • Dave Francis

    PEOPLE, YOU PAY FOR IT ALL?

    Last weekend important news
    was leaked, that the inception date for Obama’s mass felony amnesty for processing of illegal aliens by
    unconstitutional dictate will begin on February
    18, 2015! Yet the Obama administration clearly violated the rule of
    law when
    he issued almost 5.5 million more work permits than congressionally set limits
    allow according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). The
    report shows that, according to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS)
    data obtained by a Freedom of Information request, from 2009-2014 the agency
    issued 5,461,568 new work permits to immigrants, beyond the 1.1 million legal
    immigrants and 700,000 guest workers admitted to the U.S. each year. His
    administration has constantly lied, cheated and evaluated the peoples wish, to
    build and seal real fencing, appropriated the funds to make E-Verify mandatory.
    No more easement for illegal aliens to slip into America showing the distain
    for our laws.

    After the report was
    released, CIS Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan commented on the
    report’s findings. “I was astonished at the
    huge number of work permits that are being issued by the Obama administration
    outside the legal immigration system through executive discretion, especially
    at a time of high unemployment and stagnant wages. Besides the effect on the
    American worker, it encourages and rewards more illegal immigration.”

    A large portion of voters are out for what they can get FREE
    of charge, the parasites that live amongst us and not just illegal aliens? They sit and collect the benefits of American
    sweat who have worked all there lives. Millions of our population is out of a
    job, out on the streets. Yet Obama wants Washington to approve billions of dollars in
    catering to foreign nations, who give us the finger and its people that have
    crossed into our country. King Obama has
    laid out laws that they cannot be touched by border agents; a ‘Catch and
    Release’ program, that if you reach America, it becomes a sanctuary for these people. President Obama has become a nemesis to the
    taxpayer, and taking us deeper into the economic toilet. THIS IS ONE OF THE PRINCIPLE REASONS THE FEDERAL BUDGET KEEPS RISING.

    Both sides are guilty of not protecting the
    people from foreign and domestic enemies. We have an Imperial ruler who cares
    more for the welfare of illegal aliens, than he does for the American people.
    Millions of Americans are still seeking work, and this President is giving a
    free pass, social security card, health care, child tax credits, food stamps,
    cash payments, low income housing over the needs of veterans, single mothers,
    orphans, our sick, blind and disabled; our mentally handicapped.

    The GOP promised to overturn amnesty, to defund
    or outright get rid of Obamacare and even to impeach the despicable excuse for a
    president. But now…under spineless House leader John Boehner’s guiding hand
    they’re flip-flopping. The ruling Republicans are crumbling and making
    rumblings they may not do anything? This
    makes no sense unless John Boehner is cutting deals with Obama. We don’t
    know what he’s been promised but we sure know what we were pledged and we
    intend to force the GOP to make good.

    Don’t be tricked by the breather in Washington, thinking you can sit
    back patiently and do—nothing? We urge you to call your Representative and
    Senators (the Capitol Switchboard is 1-866-220-0044) and ask them to keep up
    the pressure on their state and federal lawmakers. CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS
    OR STAND ASIDE FOR AMERICAN PATRIOTS. Every time an illegal alien slips past our
    unsecured border, we, the taxpayer must support them. Learn more at NumbersUSA
    or Alipac on this toxic subject If neither party will seal the border.

    Obama has all the funds he needs to begin the move in
    starting this amnesty in 18 days and we need your help right away to get into
    phoning Washington back against this plot that will result in the deaths of
    many Americans, loss of our sovereignty as a nation, billions of lost taxpayer
    resources, and election after election going to radical socialist candidates in
    the future!

    America needs to know
    that enough of you stand with every Tea Party Conservative, with every patriot
    who is an Independent of any party, of any delusional Liberal any of our citizen
    who is not human parasite and lives of the hard work of taxpaying Americans. If
    you are black-white-brown, or any other skin color, join the fight to block
    King Obama’s illegal alien amnesty. He is determined to swamp this country with
    criminals, as he secretly has already released 36 thousand back in our
    neighborhoods, with large numbers already detained for new crimes.

    We face of our greatest challenge yet, as many of you who
    have stood with us to stop Amnesty so many times before and thus force Left
    wing Liberals like Obama out to the open to his anti-American agenda, of
    forcing us all into a precarious situation of being governed by a few elites as
    was the consequences of the Soviet Union. This self styled dictator his view of
    the world, run by the inept United Nations as he tries to steal our sovereignty
    behind our backs. He has already trampled our god given rights to self
    determination given to us by the Founding Fathers.

    The
    Constitution gives the president zero power to write law and yet this is exactly
    what he has imposed.

  • ErikKengaard

    Mr. Cohen is naive, with his “world peace,” otherwise stated as “bipartisan, practical legislation to do so. Until then, he will continue to be part of the problem, not the solution.”

    I’ve watched the deterioration of quality of life in California for more than 70 years, and the major factors in that deterioration are (1) Hart Cellar (1965); (2) War on Poverty (1965); (3) War on Drugs (Nixon); (4) Simpson-Mazzoli (1986)

  • newyorkroger

    In defending the executive order, Cohen focuses on the discretion it allows Homeland Security in deportations. Cohen ignores the “work papers” Obama’s EO promises nearly 5 million illegal immigrants. it would be foolish to believe the president’s intention here is merely to save DHS time and money. The EO is designed, in spirit, to rewrite immigration law. In fact, Obama said, in speaking to a group of Latinos, “I changed the law.”

    http://dailycaller.com/2014/11/26/obama-i-just-took-an-action-to-change-the-law/

    The Constitution does not give the president the power to “change the law” without the consent of Congress. The question is not whether Obama’s EO is sound policy, or good for the country, the question is whether it is constitutional or not. It is not.

    Obama’s action also do not compare with Reagan’s or Bush’s EO. In the case of Reagan, Congress offered and amnesty to those in the U.S. illegally but that bill, as written by Congress and signed by President Reagan, did not protect the children of those families while they waited for a decision on their amnesty. Reagan used the EO to protect those children. It made sense and it did not conflict with the amnesty Congress already authorized.

    The Obama administration perverted this action to justify the most recent immigration EO that has no support from Congress. The 26 states and the U.S. Constitution must win here. It is for the good of our democracy. We are a nation of laws and process. That is part of the reason people like coming here. We don’t have a dictator.