Obama’s amnesty plan loses in court Judges find overreach of presidential power
President Obama’s effort to grant up to 5 million illegal immigrants work permits and amnesty from deportation suffered a major blow last week when a federal appeals court ruled it was likely illegal, in yet another move by the courts to set limits on this White House’s efforts to stretch presidential powers.
The 2-1 decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans instantly forces the issue to the fore of the presidential campaigns, where all three top Democratic candidates not only insisted that Mr. Obama’s actions were legal, but also vowed to go beyond them and try to expand the amnesty to still more illegal immigrants. Republican candidates have vowed to reverse the moves.
The decision is a huge win for Texas and 25 other states that sued a year ago to stop the president after he declared he would no longer wait for Congress to pass legislation he wanted and announced he was acting to “change the law” on his own.
Writing for the majority, Judge Jerry E. Smith said that statement by Mr. Obama weighed heavily against him because only Congress has the power to rewrite the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“The INA flatly does not permit the reclassification of millions of illegal aliens as lawfully present and thereby make them newly eligible for a host of federal and state benefits, including work authorization,” Judge Smith wrote.
The ruling does not mean those illegal immigrants will be deported — indeed, the judges affirmed that the administration has much leeway to decide who does get kicked out of the country on a case-by-case basis.
But the decision means that while leaving them alone, the Homeland Security secretary cannot proactively grant work permits, Social Security numbers and a prospective grant of nondeportation for three years.
The ruling also does not alter Mr. Obama’s 2012 policy granting a similar deportation amnesty to socalled Dreamers, or young adult illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Texas did not challenge that policy.
But the decision does halt the 2014 expansion Mr. Obama announced, which would have lifted the age limit on the 2012 policy so it applied to all Dreamers and would have extended the grant of amnesty to illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent resident children.
Estimates have placed the number of people who would have qualified at up to 5 million.
Mr. Obama repeatedly insisted he was within the law and pointed to smaller grants of “deferred action” taken by other presidents.
The majority of the court, however, said this waiver went far beyond that scope, with Mr. Obama attempting to convert major classifications of illegal status.