amnesty

District court declares Obama immigration action unconstitutional

Earlier Tuesday, a federal court in Pennsylvania declared aspects of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy unconstitutional.

According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals. As a consequence, Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.

This is the first judicial opinion to address Obama’s decision to expand deferred action for some individuals unlawfully present in the United States. [I've now posted the opinion here.]

The procedural background of the case is somewhat unusual. The case involves an individual who was deported and then reentered the country unlawfully...

This isn’t the only case...two-dozen states have filed suit challenging Obama’s recent immigration policy reforms. Led by Texas, these states claim that the president as exceeded the scope of executive authority in this area.... even if the states don’t have standing, the legality of the president’s actions could nonetheless be decided in federal court.

UPDATE: Here are some additional thoughts on the ruling.

It is quite unusual for a district court to reach this sort of constitutional issue in this sort of case. Indeed, Judge Schwab appears to have reached out quite aggressively to engage the lawfulness of the President’s actions...

On the merits, I understand the concerns that motivate Judge Schwab’s reasoning, but I am not persuaded... President Obama’s actions are broader in scope, but not clearly different in kind from what his predecessors have done and to which Congress has acquiesced.

It is true, as Judge Schwab notes, that the President’s announced policy identifies broad criteria for deferring removal of individuals unlawfully in the country. This would appear to make the action somewhat legislative, but I don’t think it’s enough to make the action unlawful. The new policy does not preclude the executive branch from revoking deferred action in individual cases and does not create any enforceable rights against future executive action...

President Obama’s action may be broader than many are comfortable with, and it is understandably hard to stomach given all the President’s prior statements disclaiming authority to take these steps — but such concerns are rooted in customary political norms, not judicially enforceable constitutional rules.

Republican leadership is already dropping the ball on immigration

The president is all-in with his amnesty memos. He claims resources don't permit him to enforce immigration law, so he's bypassing Congress and the constitutional limits of his office by giving over 4 million illegal aliens work documents with the intention of making it politically impossible to ever return them home. No doubt this is not the end – there is more to come over the next two years.
 
Can't get what you want through Congress? Just change the law by yourself.
 
Aside from the obvious adverse economic impacts of adding over 4 million new people to the work-authorized labor force, let's look at the basic politics of the situation. What happens when one side is united and focused, while the other is jumbled and incoherent?
 
Obama is all-in, not just with his amnesty, but with people and organizations that work to destroy or undermine U.S. immigration controls. Moreover, there appears to be a wholesale shift within the Democratic Party away from any interest in controlling immigration in the future.
 
This is new. During most of the 20th Century, the Democratic Party had a strong impulse to protect American labor. Now, after thirty years of outsourcing jobs, that's all disappeared. Organized labor has virtually evaporated and so has that wing of the Democratic Party. In 2014, there seems to be unanimity among the Democrats that everyone who wants to come should be able to come. Of course this is with the expectation that a huge majority of new government dependent immigrants will vote for Democrats.
 
Let's compare that with Congressional Republicans. It's not even 2015 and already they are all over the map. It's not just that some Republicans are in the pockets of the Chamber of Commerce (though plenty are), it's that there is no core consensus on what is good public policy. Beyond "secure the border" (not a serious policy construct) and "more guest workers," there is no willingness to embrace the good ideas that are out there. Republicans can't even agree on how to define the problem. When you cannot agree on the problem, you can bet there's no consensus on solutions.
 
From the standpoint of power and predictive outcomes, it's easy to see where this is heading. Democrats are united and driven by a common goal: destroy America's immigration limits and controls regardless of the consequences for taxpayers, American students and working families.
 
Republicans are spooked by shadows and specters conjured up by pundits, consultants and certain key donors. "We need the labor," says one. "Can't offend Latino voters," another announces. "Don't want a shutdown – hurts the party," they say. "We can't make people who've broken our laws go back home – that would look bad." And so it goes.
 
Too many Republicans cannot grasp what is at stake here. They will not take the time to examine the serious policy issues in play. Others simply want to satisfy big donors' demands for more visas.
 
What we need to see from next year's House and Senate leadership is a five point program to get something done that responds to the threat we face as a nation. Here are some ideas:
 
• Repeal the unaccompanied minors' law that is being manipulated by smugglers to move Central Americans into our country illegally. (So far, all we see is funding to help it along.)
• Pass a law that both bars the explicit claim of deferred action and parole discretion asserted by the president and DHS, as well as their ability to issue work documents to those not in the country in a defined status (non-immigrant, refugee or permanent resident alien).
• Pass a mandatory e-verify bill for all employers and present it to the President.
• Pass an interior enforcement bill that unites state, federal, and local assets in immigration law enforcement.
• Begin drafting a meaningful bill to restore a functioning immigration control system that will redefine this debate away from "amnesty at all costs" to a serious effort that will restore public confidence that the Congress can set enforceable immigration limits.
 
Here's the axiom: A unified party will prevail over one that is jumbled and unfocused. For those of us hoping for a robust policy response from Congress, what we see so far disappoints. 2015 looks to be a rough ride.
 
Dan Stein is President, Federation for American Immigration Reform.
 

Conservatives Express Anger That Amnesty Not Defunded In Omnibus - The Fix Is In

Conservatives who had wanted to see language to block President Obama’s executive actions inserted into the massive, must-pass government funding bill are expressing frustration and anger at House Republican leadership’s lack of an appetite to fight amnesty now.

“The fix is in, which I’ve been saying all along,” Rep. Matt Salmon said after leaving the GOP’s conference meeting Wednesday morning.

Tuesday night the House Appropriations Committee posted its $1.1 trillion spending package. The measure is expected to receive a vote Thursday. If no funding bill is passed by that night, the government would shut down.

“Promises around here — regardless of who they are made by — don’t seem to mean anything,” Salmon told reporters.

He explained that lawmakers’ phones have been “lighting up” with constituents asking them “do what [they] were elected to do.”

The Arizona lawmaker is spearheading an amendment with other conservative lawmakers to attach an amendment to the funding bill that would prohibit funding for Obama’s executive amnesty. His spokesman estimated to Breitbart News that the amendment currently has 55 co-sponsors. The amendment is, however, unlikely to receive a vote.

Leadership’s spending package instead is designed to fund most of the government through September, but only fund the Department of Homeland Security into February, when Republicans will have more reinforcements in the Senate to pursue a fight against Obama’s executive actions on immigration...

Conservative lawmakers Wednesday not only expressed frustration with the short amount of time given to consider the 1,603 page bill and the fact that it does not defund executive amnesty immediately, but they also questioned whether leadership would actually give a full-fledged fight next year.

“What is there to suggest that a few months from now you will oppose the amnesty that you have today funded?” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), also a co-sponsor of the defund amendment, asked.

“My biggest concern is that there are a significant number of Republicans who support amnesty, they just don’t support the way in which the president did it. That is a big distinction,” the Alabama conservative said...

Some of the ability to fight Obama on executive amnesty will be lost if House Republicans go along with allowing it to be funded, if only for a short time, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) argues.

“My point is you either defend the Constitution when the president violates it or you lose some of your ability and traction to do so later,” King said. “I think its better to fight now than it is later. So therefore I have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, that’s for this Congress and I expect to be standing on the floor January 6th taking another one. I don’t want to have voted to fund the lawless, unconstitutional act by the president and then I could take an oath and mean it.”...

This entry contains excerpts - read the complete article

'Cromnibus' Spending Bill Passes, Just Hours Before Deadline

Post updated at 9:38 p.m. ET.

A massive federal spending bill finally won the House's approval Thursday night, less than 3 hours before a midnight deadline that threatened a federal shutdown. The measure's fate had been in doubt after it narrowly survived a rules vote earlier in the day. The final tally was 219-206.

Faced with uncertainty over Congress meeting its deadline to approve a bill, the House's leadership scheduled a vote on both the long-term spending bill and a stop-gap continuing resolution. It passed a two-day resolution in order to give the Senate time to consider the spending bill.

The $1.014 trillion spending measure has been criticized for easing rules on campaign finance and the banking industry. But its supporters say it's also a bipartisan deal that would fund most of the U.S. government until next October.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., called it a "hold your nose vote."

The final tally for the spending bill was starkly different from that in an earlier procedural vote.

Around mid-day, no Democrat voted in favor. But after the final vote was called shortly after 9 p.m. ET, more than 30 Democrats voted for the spending bill. In contrast, more than twice as many Republicans voted against it in the final tally than had earlier in the day.

We've updated this text; from our earlier post:

Disagreement over the bill forced the final vote to be delayed for hours Thursday. It also created unlikely alliances: The White House joined with House Speaker John Boehner to rally support for the measure, most House Democrats agreed with a small group of Republicans – including Rep. Michele Bachmann – that the bill should be rejected.

You can read the bill, broken down by government agency, on the House Appropriations Committee site.

The legislation was nicknamed "cromnibus" because it combines the traditional sweeping scope of an omnibus spending bill with a continuing resolution (CR). While it would fund most of the government until the next financial year, the Department of Homeland Security would only be funded through February, in a move that seeks to limit President Obama's recent executive actions on immigration.

Another part of the measure would vastly increase the maximum amount of money a contributor can give to a political party.

"Right now a person can give just under $100,000 a year to a party through its various committees," NPR's Ailsa Chang reports on All Things Considered. "And under this bill, that cap goes up to almost $800,000."

Shortly after noon Thursday, the bill squeezed by in the rules vote, 214-212, after Republican leaders, including Speaker John Boehner and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry, walked the floor to bolster support, NPR's Juana Summers reports.

After no Democrats voted in favor and more than a dozen Republicans defected to vote against, the House was adjourned so Boehner could organize his support.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi spoke out against the bill in the House earlier Thursday, sharply criticizing it for altering rules in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law to let banks place both standard accounts and accounts that handle riskier derivative trades under the protection of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

"I was so really heartbroken ... to see the taint that was placed on this valuable appropriations bill from on high," Pelosi said. She told her colleagues that anyone voting for the legislation would be putting their name next to what she called "a ransom" and "blackmail" that would profit Wall Street.

Discussing the opposition, Boehner said the provisions were "agreed to in this bill on a bipartisan, bicameral agreement. So while some members may have objected to this issue or that issue, nobody did this unilaterally. We've done this in a bipartisan fashion, and frankly it's a good bill."

Others have criticized the bill for containing provisions such as one that seeks to block Washington, D.C.'s bid to legalize the recreational use of marijuana — as more than 65 percent of the federal district's voters decided to do last month.

The Hill tells us who voted with the Democrats against the spending measure earlier Thursday:

"The 16 Republican defectors were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Dave Brat (Va.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Steve King (Iowa), Raúl Labrador (Idaho), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Bill Posey (Fla.), Matt Salmon (Ariz.) and Steve Stockman (Texas)."

Very special guest, Dr. Stephen Steinlight, addresses OFIR meeting

Dr. Stephen Steinlight - Senior Policy Analyst from The Center for Immigration Studies in Washington DC addressed OFIR members and guests and OFIR's annual Christmas Party and meeting.  The overwhelming defeat of Ballot Measure 88 was celebrated, as well.  Visit our OFIR photo gallery.

An amnesty plan fit for an emperor, not America

President Obama's executive order on amnesty is long and complex. Take a speed reading course and here's what you can find out: nobody goes home unless the president decides you are unworthy of his beneficence. 
 
The president has drawn arbitrary lines in the sand. Some people have to have been here five years or more, others do not. He did not include parents of those who received earlier Obama grants, but instead made sure other relatives got his special treatment.
 
Can this possibly be a power delegated to the president by Congress? Of course not. It leaves the plenary power of Congress to set immigration limits and standards shivered in fragments, along with our system of checks and balances.
 
Forget the Obama claims of fine legal distinctions or the bogus excuses about limited resources. These Obama amnesty terms really are arbitrary. The president operates on a political whim, pursuing whatever he thinks is feasible politically.
 
Obama is very close to organizations and people who want to destroy U.S. immigration controls. He is, as Alinsky called it, close to the "scene of conflict." The famous radical said, "One's concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one's distance from the scene of the conflict." Obama isn't near the conflict, he now is the conflict.
 
The president is now outside the law and the Constitution. He believes he cannot be stopped. That's why he acted. He knows it is illegal, and he still may doubt he's an emperor. The core threat to the United States in that his administration believes it can be lawless so long as no alien is denied a benefit. The president can admit whoever he wants; he can amnesty whoever he wants; he can give out American jobs to whomever he wants; he can force taxpayers to pay for all manners of benefits. He thinks no one can stop him, and this cannot be sustained in a democracy.
 
Here is the core of this argument: The administration believes no one has legal standing to challenge him in court, so his distinctions are purely political, not legal. He could just decree everyone gets to stay with work cards. He could decree unlimited benefits for them all. He believes no court will review his policies. He may be right, but those who oppose him will do whatever they can to prove him wrong.
 
The longer an alien remains in the country illegally — especially with granted benefits such as work documents — the more difficult it is to ever remove them. Delay works in favor of the illegal alien and against taxpayers and law abiding Americans. Obama knows this.
 
In responding, the Republican leadership is already confused and fearful of being outmaneuvered again. Impeachment is neither contemplated nor threatened. Announced so far? Possible defunding and, later, passing bills he might veto?
 
Whatever the new Republican Congress does, it must do so with the expectation that Obama is not done. His first actions in 2012 announcing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was part of a long series of orders and decisions gutting immigration law enforcement. He has continued this outrage nonstop since then. His new executive order will be followed by more and more illegal actions over the next two years.
 
Naturally, the new Congress must pass an explicit bar to try to prevent the president from carrying out these executive orders. He will veto, of course, and in doing so prove this has nothing to do with his claims of limited resources and everything to do with trying to re-engineer this society.
 
But they must do more. They must realize the severity of the threat, the express loss of national self-determination indicated by a wholesale collapse in the rule of law.
 
Congress has been assaulted, demeaned and marginalized. The president will do more and more, in an effort to further embarrass, humiliate and provoke the Republican leadership. It must confront this president, and assert the broad principles that underscore our constitutional system. Congress must do so with an eye toward what will surely be these next two years "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object (that) evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism."
 
The precedent sought by President Obama will make the nation ungovernable, in time. No nation in recorded history has survived the sustained loss of border control. Despite the ill-named myth of American exceptionalism, neither can the United States.
 

House Leadership Peddles Plan that Punts Defunding of Executive Amnesty

In a closed-door meeting this morning, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) pitched House Republicans a plan to pass a government funding bill that delays the decision on whether to defund President Obama's executive amnesty to next year. The Speaker's proposal comes as Congress is racing to pass a budget before the government runs out of funding on December 11. And, because the Constitution requires that spending bills originate in the House of Representatives, Speaker Boehner is ultimately the one to spearhead the process for defunding the President's immigration orders. (See U.S. Const., Art. I, Sec. 7)

Under the Speaker's plan, the House will take a hybrid approach to funding the government. First, Congress will consider an appropriations bill that funds most of the government through September 2015 (known as an omnibus), but only funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until March (known as a Continuing Resolution). (Politico, Dec. 2, 2014) House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), who previously claimed Congress cannot defund the executive amnesty, voiced his support for the Speaker's plan, calling it a "good option" that would allow him to get the spending package to the House floor "early next week." (Politico, Dec. 2, 2014; CQ Today, Dec. 2, 2014; see FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 24, 2014)

Then, the House will vote on a separate bill to express its disapproval of the executive amnesty. Authored by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), this bill prohibits the executive branch from exempting from deportation "persons unlawfully present in the United States." (H.R. 5759) However, with Democrats still controlling the Senate, this bill will be dead on arrival. Thus, the bill to fund the government will go through, but nothing will be done to stop the President's executive amnesty.

True immigration reformers blasted House GOP leadership for promoting this strategy. Representative Steve King (R-IA) declared, "I will not vote to fund the president's lawless unconstitutional act and they should not be asking members to do so." (Bloomberg Government, Dec. 2, 2014) Similarly, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) released a letter from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) that refutes the claim by GOP leadership that it lacks the authority to defund the executive amnesty. CRS wrote that even for agencies that are largely funded through fees (such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)), "the funds available to the agency through fee collections would be subject to the same potential restrictions on the use of its appropriations as any other type of appropriated funds." (See Reuters, Nov. 26, 2014)

However, if Speaker Boehner can garner enough support from the rank-and-file for this approach, Congress will likely wait until March to act. Many who support the President's actions hope that the extra time will help quell public outrage at the President's actions that will shield 5 million illegal aliens from deportation, grant them work authorization, and make them eligible for numerous benefits
 

Learn about Obama's Royal Decree - Executive Amnesty for Illegal Aliens

Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform's director, Fred Elbel has created an informational and resource page including a broad scope of insightful articles covering President Obama's recent executive amnesty decree. 

The issue of executive amnesty extends far beyond amnesty, citizenship, and voting rights for millions of illegal aliens - who will overwhelmingly vote for Obama's political party. It fundamentally challenges the framework of our Constitutional Republic. It must be addressed directly, forcefully, and immediately.

Our nation's sovereignty is at stake and it would behoove all of us to more fully understand the gravity of what the President is attempting to do.


 

Half of Oregon's undocumented immigrants eligible for deportation relief, Pew data show

About half of Oregon's unauthorized immigrants will be eligible for deportation relief under President Barack Obama's executive order, announced yesterday.

Using 2012 data, the Pew Research Center calculated that of the 120,000 undocumented immigrants in Oregon, about 50,000 will be newly eligible for relief. Only Idaho and Nebraska have higher percentages of newly eligible immigrants....

Though the president's executive order was welcomed by immigration activists, some felt that more needs to be done for the approximately 6 million who will be be unaffected by the order....

To qualify, immigrants must have children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and must have lived in the U.S. at least five years.

Read the full report at the Pew Research Center.

Undocumented workers, day laborers and activists staged a rally Friday at the Portland Federal Building in response to President Barack Obama's planned changes to immigration policy. (Kristyna Wentz-Graff/The Oregonian)

Source: Pew Research Center estimates based on augmented 2012 American Community Survey data from Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS)
 

What Obama's immigration reform means for Oregon

President Barack Obama laid out his plan Thursday night to provide relief to about 5 million people in the United States who have moved here without legal permission, most notably issuing an executive order allowing undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents to be granted legal status as well.

"All of us take offense to those who reap the rewards of living in America without embracing its responsibilities," he said. However, "undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows."

It was unclear what the changes would mean in Oregon. They were well received among political leaders, but the agricultural industry was less enthusiastic, arguing that the reforms failed on many counts.

Everyone agreed, however, that the responsibility lies with Congress to pass comprehensive reforms that will address all the problems related to American's undocumented immigrant population.

This has become an increasingly thorny issue in Oregon.

Migrant labor has become a cornerstone of the state's agricultural industry, and there are about 120,000 undocumented immigrants living here. It is one of a handful of states where the number of illegal immigrants has grown fastest over the past twenty years, and immigration policy is rising to the forefront of public discussion.

Jeff Stone, executive director for the Oregon Association of Nurseries, said the plan will do little to help the state's agricultural industry, and he said it does not make up for the missed opportunity for real reform in Congress.

"(Obama's proposal) is not a replacement for resolving the immigration problem that is facing the country," he said. "It promotes everybody's narrative, positive and negative, but it doesn't solve the problem."

Comprehensive reform would include a true guest-worker program that provides a steady, reliable workforce and a new visa system to allow people who have been here for years to gain legal status in a manageable way, Stone said.

He's not alone. Farm workers across the country will largely fall outside the scope of the proposed reforms, and the national agricultural industry is skeptical that anything short of a new set of laws will stabilize their workforce.

Estimates of how many people in the country illegally are working in agriculture vary, ranging from about 500,000 to as many as 1.75 million individuals.

Obama's proposal is expected to apply to about 250,000 of them, a tiny fraction.

"For what appears to be a small subset of current agricultural workers, the president's actions will alleviate some pressure in the short term but does not offer these workers, their families, their communities or their employers the long-term assurance they deserve," said Charles Conner, head of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

Craig Regelbrugge of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform said his group never expected administrative action could provide a broad solution to the farmworker issue.

"We've seen an inexorable growth in food imports, including fruits and vegetables," Regelbrugge said. "Imports are displacing domestic production."

He said a combination of factors, including tighter border enforcement, have contributed to a worsening of the farm labor shortage.

"The workforce situation has gotten worse and worse and worse and worse," Regelbrugge said. "I think we would have had a disaster in California this year had we not had a drought disaster" that reduced crops.

For Stone, the situation in Oregon is similar. There are not enough workers and not enough certainty for the farmers.

Oregon lost one-third of its nursery growers during the recession, and it is just now building itself back up, Stone said. It relies on migrant workers, and there is a labor shortage under the current system. There are simply not enough people to work these jobs who can prove they're allowed to be here. The president's ideas don't solve that problem.

"There aren't enough visas for the work that needs to be done," Stone said. True immigration reform "is needed for the long-term survival of this country economically."

Some disagree with the idea that Obama's reforms are needed at all.

Jim Ludwick, former president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, said he does not support the plan. It isn't needed, he said. Rather, the president ought to focus on enforcing the laws we already have.

He said Obama's speech was disingenuous, conflating facts and suggesting law-abiding citizens are frequently deported when they are not, Ludwick said. The speech was meant as a political maneuver, he said, and was designed to tug at heart strings and manipulate emotions rather than set policy.

"He knows all these things he put out will never come to fruition," Ludwick said.

Immigration policy has come increasingly to the forefront in Oregon. Two weeks ago, Oregon voters shot down a ballot measure that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to hold state-issued driver cards. The Oregon Legislature had already approved the law, but voters disagreed and defeated the proposal by an overwhelming margin.

Stone said it was a shame the law hadn't passed and would have benefited the agricultural industry a great deal, but Ludwick said it was a true referendum on what Oregonians really think about immigration policy.

Political leaders were clearly more in line with Stone than Ludwick on Obama's speech, as they had been on driver's cards last year.

"I applaud President Obama's announcement this evening. His leadership will help innumerable families across the country. In our state, his action will mean that thousands of Oregonians have the ability to safely pursue aspects of daily life that many of us take for granted," said Speaker of the House Tina Kotek.

Gov. John Kitzhaber offered his support as well and, like Stone, said the needed work is not done.

"As Oregonians, we believe in a fair shot for everyone... It remains to be seen whether Congress will step up, do what's right, and pass meaningful immigration reform, or whether it will continue to play politics with the lives of millions who have been living, working, and contributing to our communities for years."

Obama called on Congress to pass a comprehensive reform package, and he insisted the temporary measures he has proposed are in keeping with American values.

"We are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once too," he said. "What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal, that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will."
 

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