Obama’s amnesty plan loses in court Judges find over­reach of pres­i­den­tial power

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

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.

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