Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Last Call For Immigration Deliberation

As expected, the Supreme Court will take up President Obama's executive actions on immigration this year, meaning it will become a major election issue starting in June.

The Supreme Court said Tuesday that it would consider a legal challenge to President Obama’s overhaul of the nation’s immigration rules. The court, which has twice rejected challenges to Mr. Obama’s health care law, will now determine the fate of one of his most far-reaching executive actions. 
Fourteen months ago, Mr. Obama ordered the creation of a program intended to allow as many as five million illegal immigrants who are the parents of citizens or of lawful permanent residents to apply for a program sparing them from deportation and providing them work permits. The program was called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. 
The president has said the program was the result of years of frustration with Republicans in Congress who had repeatedly refused to support bipartisan Senate legislation to update immigration laws. In an Oval Office address just before Thanksgiving in 2014, Mr. Obama excoriated Republicans for refusing to cooperate and told millions of illegal immigrants, “You can come out of the shadows.” 
But the president’s promise has gone unfulfilled. A coalition of 26 states, led by the attorney general in Texas, a Republican, quickly filed a lawsuit accusing the president of ignoring federal procedures for changing rules and of abusing the power of his office by sidestepping Congress. 
In February, Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Federal District Court in Brownsville, Tex., entered a preliminary injunction shutting down the program while the legal case proceeded. The government appealed, and on Nov. 9 a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, affirmed the injunction. 
If the Supreme Court upholds Mr. Obama’s actions, the White House has vowed to move quickly to set up the DAPA program and begin enrolling immigrants before his successor takes over early next year. Democratic presidential candidates have said they will continue the program, but most of the Republicans in the race have vowed to dismantle it and redouble immigration enforcement.

For those of you who are thinking that SCOTUS would not deliver a body blow to executive branch power, recall last year's decision that effectively ended two centuries of presidential cabinet recess appointments, and has allowed Republicans to block filling executive positions until the president leaves office.

We'll see how oral arguments go, but I don't have too much hope here, not with this court.  The one bright spot will be heavy pressure on the next Congress to solve immigration, and a clear delineation between Republicans and Democrats.  Unfortunately, nothing will happen on immigration until Democrats get back control of Capitol Hill.

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