Our immigration system is broken, and I know how to fix it. Boy, if that isn’t the most worn out political cliche heard every election.
President Obama attempted to make one fix, called deferred deportation, through the use of an executive order. The lower courts in Texas said he had exceeded his authority. Since President Obama and the Justice Department did not agree with the ruling, they appealed to the Supreme Court. They have agreed to hear the case.
The Supreme Court could have declined to hear the case, in which case, the program would be dead. So, it is a victory in a way, because they may rule in favor of the deferred deportation program. Oral arguments will likely be in April, with a decision in late June, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The president can not change a person’s status from illegal to legal. The immigration laws are set by Congress. And this is where the mess begins, because Republicans and Democrats have voiced very different agendas in regards to immigration. But Obama and the Department of Justice felt that as long as the executive order made temporary changes to the way the law was being implemented, then the order was legal. The next president can end the program for sure, but it will be extremely unpopular, after granting deferred deportation to millions of people. It will be like they came out of hiding, just to get caught again.
There are a number of legal issues before the court. The authority to deport someone is with the INS, hence the executive branch has discretion to a certain extent. But the lawsuits against the program argue that this should be done on a case by case basis, rather than a blanket deferment of a select group of illegals. Another issue is whether the executive order is really a INS rule, in which case there is a lengthy process of hearings required as part of the rule making procedures. An argument in favor of the executive order is that Congress did not budget enough money for the deportation of approximately 11 million illegals, so it forces the INS into selective enforcement.
The internet is filled with articles on deferred deportation. For this reason, I have not included any links in this blog.
Supreme Court observers expect a close decision. Liberals on the Court may see the executive order as a workable solution to a conflicting mess (lots of laws requiring deportation, little money to do it) made by Congress, while conservatives may see Obama as doing an end run around Congress.
The case belongs in the Supreme Court. Exactly how much authority the executive branch of our government has, is a constitutional question, not to be answered by Congress, nor political candidates, nor the media, but in our highest court.