Tuesday in a stunning blow to the Obama administration, a federal appeals court struck down his deportation amnesty. Using the president’s own words of claiming powers to “change the law” were part of the reason for the court’s decision. The ruling came late Monday and reaffirmed Obama must carry out laws and doesn’t have blanket powers to waive them.
The latest in a series of major court rulings, the 2-1 ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals pokes a hole in Obama’s immigration plans. It also puts limits on the president’s claims of expansive executive powers to enact his agenda without having to get congressional approval, reports the Washington Times. Writing for himself and Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, Judge Jerry E. Smith delivered an opinion loaded with meaning for the separation of powers battles. The judge singled out Obama’s own claim that he acted to rewrite the law because Congress wouldn’t pass the bill he wanted.
Angered by a heckler who was chastising him for boosting the number of deportations, Obama returned a fiery answer. “But what you are not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” the president said. To date, the Justice Department has failed to explain away Obama’s remarks.
Officially known as the Deferred Action for Parental Arrivals, or DAPA, the president’s plan was intended to grant up to 5 million illegal immigrants a proactive three-year stay of deportation and to give them work permits, allowing them to come out of the shadows and join American society although they were still considered to be in the country illegally. To qualify, illegal immigrants had to be parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident children.
Reasoning that he was never going to deport them anyway, so they should be granted some more firm status, the president characterized his plan as a use of prosecutorial discretion. The court saw it differently, however, and ruled that he not only didn’t follow the usual rules in making a major policy change, but that his claims of power to grant tentative legal status to a massive class of people went beyond the waiver powers Congress granted him in the law.
According to Breitbart, federal Judge Andrew Hanen previously issued a temporary injunction stopping the president’s actions. With the new ruling the court affirmed the lower court did not err in granting a temporary injunction blocking Obama’s executive amnesty program.
“The court’s decision is a vindication for the Rule of Law and the Constitution,” said Texas Governor Abbott in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. Abbott initially filed the lawsuit in 2014 duing his final months as Texas’ Attorney General. “The President’s job is to enforce the immigration laws, not rewrite them. President Obama should abandon his lawless executive amnesty program and start enforcing the law today.”
According to Breitbart Texas, the judge laid out three issues to answer in this ruling: “(1) whether the States have standing to bring this case; (2) whether the DHS has the necessary discretion to institute the DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) program; and (3) whether the DAPA program is constitutional, comports with existing laws, and was legally adopted.”
“Today, the Fifth Circuit asserted that the separation of powers remains the law of the land, and the president must follow the rule of law, just like everybody else,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement obtained Monday night by Breitbart Texas. “Throughout this process, the Obama Administration has aggressively disregarded the constitutional limits on executive power, and Texas, leading a charge of 26 states, has secured an important victory to put a halt to the president’s lawlessness.”
Texas was joined in the lawsuit by the states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Hispanic-rights activists are insisting Obama file an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court, and vow to make immigration an issue in the 2016 election. Obama’s options are now limited. He can ask the full Fifth Circuit, all 17 judges, to rehear the case en banc, in the hope it will reject this opinion by a three-judge panel. Or he can ask the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a writ of certiorari to review the Fifth Circuit’s judgement. The Fifth Circuit’s decision was a terrible defeat for Obama. He can either give up on executive amnesty altogether, or double-down and take his chances with another appeal.