The Justice Department will ask the Supreme Court to hear the lawsuit against President Obama’s executive amnesty order after an appeals court made permanent an injunction by a lower district court. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled Monday night against Obama and upheld a Texas judge’s injunction against the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shielded young illegal immigrants from deportation if their parents brought them to the U.S. as children.
On Tuesday, the DOJ issued a brief statement saying it would seek Supreme Court review.
“The Department of Justice remains committed to taking steps that will resolve the immigration litigation as quickly as possible in order to allow DHS to bring greater accountability to our immigration system by prioritizing the removal of the worst offenders, not people who have long ties to the United States and who are raising American children,” Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said. “The Department disagrees with the Fifth Circuit’s adverse ruling and intends to seek further review from the Supreme Court of the United States.”
The appeals court ruling put the administration’s record on executive amnesty at 0-5 in the courts and greatly reduced the prospect of implementation of the executive order before Obama leaves office in 2017. Appeals over the injunction could take months and, depending on how the case is ruled upon, the injunction could even get kicked back to the Texas federal court, though that is highly unlikely.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who began the 26-state lawsuit as the state attorney general, called it a “vindication for the rule of law and the Constitution.”
“President Obama should abandon his lawless executive amnesty program and start enforcing the law today,” Abbott said in a news release.
Republicans had criticized the plan as an illegal executive overreach when Obama announced it last November. Twenty-six states challenged the plan in court. U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen granted the temporary injunction preventing the order’s implementation this past February, agreeing with the states that legalizing the presence of so many people would be a “virtually irreversible” action that would cause the states “irreparable harm.”
The administration argued that the executive branch was within its rights in deciding to defer deportation of selected groups of immigrants, including children who were brought to the U.S. illegally.
“President Obama should abandon his lawless executive amnesty program and start enforcing the law today,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release.
The 70-page majority opinion by Judge Jerry Smith, which was joined by Jennifer Walker Elrod, rejected the Obama administration’s arguments that the district judge abused his discretion with a nationwide order, as well as their argument that the states lacked standing to challenge Obama’s executive orders. In fact, while the court majority acknowledged the argument that an adverse ruling would discourage potential beneficiaries of the plan from cooperating with law enforcement authorities or paying taxes, the court held that the president did not have the authority to issue the order and did indeed place an unduly burden on the states.
“But those are burdens that Congress knowingly created, and it is not our place to second-guess those decisions,” Smith wrote.
The Fifth Circuit in May also ruled to uphold the injunction against President Obama’s executive amnesty handed down in February by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen. In another 2-1 decision, the court rejected the administration’s argument and ruled the president could not move forward with deferred deportation and additional benefits for at least 5 million illegal, undocumented immigrants. Justices Jerry Smith and Jennifer Walker Elrod denied the stay, stating in an opinion authored by Smith that the administration is unlikely to succeed on the merits of the case. Judge Stephen Higginson dissented.
Prior to the ruling, and despite assurances by top administration officials to the contrary, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services began reallocating significant resources away from a computer system — known as the “Electronic Immigration System” — in order to send letters to all 9,000,000 green card holders urging them to naturalize prior to the 2016 election.
A newly obtained document (viewable on a previous article) written by Leon Rodriguez, the “director and co-chair of the Task Force on New Americans,” details an “integration plan that will advance our nation’s global competitiveness and ensure that the people who live in this country can fully participate in their communities.”
Executive amnesty has also been losing in the court of public opinion, as well. As PPD has previously examined, particularly in the case of immigration, the results get worse when the question is asked more plainly. We have examined and explained the data on this topic in great detail in the past, but most voters still oppose President Obama’s executive order to exempt millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. A solid 59% say Obama does not have that legal power to issue the order, which is up from 52% in February and a new high to date.
Further, only 35% favor the president’s actions, which is little changed from 5 months ago, and only 25% believe the president has the legal authority to grant executive amnesty without the approval of Congress. A nearly identical number of voters (26%) say Obama should take action if Congress doesn’t lay down in front of him on the issue.