In Advance of Supreme Court Immigration Case, Obama Supporters Ratchet Up Rhetoric

Published on March 14th, 2016

By Joe Guzzardi
March 14, 2016
With the Supreme Court set to hear Texas v. U.S. in a few weeks, congressional Democrats and immigration advocacy groups are lining up behind President Obama’s controversial executive action amnesty. Of concern is whether the president’s November 2014 action that would defer deportations, issue employment authorization documents, social security numbers, and earned income tax credits to about five million aliens is legal and constitutional.
Last week, two members of the Democratic leadership, California U.S Rep. Zoe Lofgren and indicted New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, encouraged their colleagues, 39 from the Senate and 186 from the House, to sign an amicus brief in support of Obama. Invective accompanied the signatures. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi charged Republicans with “breathtaking obstruction” that has “perpetuated a broken immigration system that tears families apart, dishonors our values as Americans, and fails to meet the needs of our country.” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid echoed Pelosi’s familiar talking points.
House Speaker Paul Ryan is expected to file an opposing brief challenging the executive action, formally known as deferred action for parents of American citizens and lawful permanent Residents (DAPA). Ryan contends that the Obama administration is directly undermining Congress’ Article One powers to write laws, authority that the Executive Branch does not have. Furthermore, Obama’s overreach violates the “Take Care” clause which requires that presidents faithfully execute the laws as they are written.
Other influential parties that want to see DAPA implemented have aligned with the DOJ. A contingent of California’s business leaders, academics and politicians, all who have vested interests in seeing DAPA enacted, argue that California cannot survive without giving legal status to its nearly 1.1 million aliens who have citizen children. A UCLA study, for example, found that DAPA would create 130,000 new jobs, but says nothing about the native-born Californians those legalized workers would displace. According to UCLA, 22 percent of production workers, and 21 percent of construction workers are unlawfully employed and are doing jobs native-born Californians would do. UCLA further calculates that DAPA would increase illegal immigrants’ wages by $5.5 billion annually, but these are earnings that should go to citizens.
The Department of Justice’s arguments in favor of Obama’s actions are disingenuous. Federal lawyers maintain that the President has the authority to defer deportations. But their brief never mentions the benefits associated with DAPA. DOJ insists that because Congress has a limited amount of available funds to deport aliens, they can only remove a small fraction of the 15 million aliens who currently reside in the U.S., an estimated 400,000. However, deportations are not at the heart of the Supreme Court case. Two lower courts have ruled that the core issue in Texas and the other states’ complaints is not deportations but whether the federal government can unilaterally grant a host of benefits, and because legal status would then be awarded, compel the states to hand out driver’s licenses.
David Leopold, former American Immigration Lawyers Association president, confirmed that the lower courts’ orders have no effect on immigration enforcement, and therefore no bearing on the administration’s ability to set enforcement priorities. The Supreme Court’s ruling, likely to be handed down before it adjourns this summer, should be decided solely on whether the President has the right to ignore Congress and bestow affirmative benefits on illegal immigrants.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]

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