Is New Immigration Policy Constitutional?

On Friday, the Obama Administration changed the immigration policy to essentially grant immunity to some illegal immigrants, but some in Congress are already threatening to challenge it.

g children who were brought to the United States illegally before the age of 16. The move essentially grants immunity, without granting a path to citizenship, for a reported 800,000 people. 

But there are many in Congress who have spoken out against it, saying the move itself was illegal under the U.S. system and cannot stand. In a press release, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA-07) issued the following statement.

“America is a beacon of freedom in the world and it is no wonder that hundreds of thousands of people each year apply to complete the legal and proper steps to become citizens or permanent residents of this amazing land.  After all, who wouldn’t want to raise their family in the land of opportunity and under the rule of law?  Unfortunately, President Obama’s decision to cease the deportation of potentially millions of illegal immigrants and instead grant them legal work permits—while millions of legal U.S. residents remain unemployed and unable to find work—undermines both the rule of law and the economic opportunity that is America.”

“As of 2011, more than 13.7 million U.S. citizens were unemployed, and today our national unemployment levels remain disappointingly high at 8.2 percent.  How can the President and his Administration offer the few American jobs that are available to those who have come to America illegally rather than those U.S. citizens who have always paid their taxes and played by the rules?”

“With today’s decree, President Obama demonstrates the same contempt for America’s laws that those who enter illegally do.  He is undermining the balance of power laid out by the U.S. Constitution, going far beyond his power within the Executive Branch and advancing his election-year politics at the expense of the American economy and the American people’s trust.”

“I am tremendously proud of America’s history as a nation of immigrants, and I am committed to continuing and improving the legal avenues that allow another generation of legal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.  But, as every new American citizen knows, we are a nation of laws, and the U.S. Constitution extends lawmaking power to Congress and Congress alone.  This executive power grab—whether proposed by President Obama, President Romney, or President Reagan—is an unconstitutional act, and I will fight it with every tool at my disposal.”

Do you think this new order is Constitutional and can it withstand a legal challenge?

Brian Crawford June 18, 2012 at 05:57 PM
The Dream Act was passed in the House and there were plenty of votes for passage in the Senate. Unfortunately Dems could not bypass the Republican filibuster. Unlike Pubs, Democrats don't always vote in lock step with the party's talking points. I actually view that as a strength.
Wilson June 18, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I bet many of you do not know that the members of the Republican party set out to ruin Pres. Obama on the night of his inauguration. The party of NO were privately meeting and were determined to kill any measures that were put forth before Congress with a no vote. This lead to executive orders, recess appointments and the like.
Brian Crawford June 18, 2012 at 06:30 PM
You'll have to give us a link to the NPR story....doesn't make much sense to me. It COSTS publicly owned jails to house prisoners, how are they profiting?
Brian Crawford June 18, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Steve, in retrospect "enemy of God" was a little strong. My apologies.
Brian Crawford June 18, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Here's a good read from NPR on how the private prison industry is driving anti-immigrant legislation: http://www.npr.org/2010/10/28/130833741/prison-economics-help-drive-ariz-immigration-law
Karsten Torch June 18, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Of course they were. It's all just an anti-Obama conspiracy. Damn Republicans.... Oh, and GW was flying one of the planes, too.....
Karsten Torch June 18, 2012 at 07:08 PM
So we're going to blame anti-illegal legislation on profiteering? They make something illegal illegal, and it has nothing to do with our federal government not upholding our current laws? And we're supposed to believe this? I'm not saying it doesn't have something to do with it, but very minor. At most. Truth is, the laws haven't been being upheld in a long time - not just the current administration, but long before. People are tired of it. And then Janet decides to issue the decree that no illegals will be picked up from the Arizona justice system - again, just another example of skirting the laws. Hell, not even skirting, how about downright blatantly ignoring the laws? What we're talking about here is Obama just deciding which laws to enforce and not to enforce - which isn't his purview. At all. If he doesn't like them, change them. But, again, don't expect us to reward criminals and be happy about it.
Sharon Swanepoel June 18, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Immigrating to the U.S. is not easy - I can certainly attest to that. However, it is what it is - like becoming a surgeon. If it was easy, we'd all do it. That being said, it has many flaws and needs to be corrected. But the U.S. is not the only country with immigration laws. Many years ago when I still lived in South AFrica, I had a friend who had to return to the UK from SA because of immigration laws. Her husband was an auto mechanic and when the economy tanked, putting a whole lot of auto workers back out on the streets, they had to leave because their visa had been based on his employment with the auto industry. We were upset, had become friends over the 3 years they had lived in SA, but they were told there are fewer jobs and it is the birthright of citizens of SA to have the ones that were available. They returned and were able to make it permanent a few years later when the economy picked up.
Brian Crawford June 18, 2012 at 07:28 PM
The private prison industry's role in this is far from minor, they helped write the legislation for cripes sake. The facts in the NPR article are well documented. An interesting aside; Russell Pearce, the powerful Arizona state legislator who pushed SB1070 through the AZ statehouse, was recalled by AZ voters last year primarily over his anti-immigration policies.
Brian Crawford June 18, 2012 at 07:36 PM
I think Wilson is probably referring to this: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/15/from-day-one.html
Brian Crawford June 18, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Except for the most part, illegal immigrants are doing the work that Americans don't want to do. Even with state unemployment over 10% Georgia farmers suffered millions of dollars of crop loss last year because they couldn't find enough legal workers to harvest their produce.
North Georgia Weather June 18, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Brian, that doesn't mean we want illegal people in this country!!! How hard is that to understand??? THEY ARE ILLEGAL. We lock up illegal people. We have a justice system to deal with illegal people. Why do you insist that coming here illegally is OK with us because it's not?
Tammy Osier June 18, 2012 at 07:47 PM
@ JM Fay- re: your response to me. We agree more than you think. Immigration reform would START with sealing of the borders. As far as Romney being better or not- Romney showed in his state that he was willingto do the will of his people. He is under a lot of pressure to prove justthat if he becomes the next president. I promise you, the republicans will hold him accountable. That's what the TEA party was about. Regardless of what people thought it was about, the first thing they did was fire REPUBLICANS not doing their jobs. So, he is definately the better of the two. Otherwise, we have a sure thing of going down an unrecoverable socilist landslide. Sure, we have the 3 divisions of power, but Pelosi and Reid showed that they could do whatever they wanted unncontested by their own, so it is possible.
Tammy Osier June 18, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Also, I never understood the premise that illegals do the work Americans don't want to do. I think that's a democrat talking point if I ever heard one. My son had a hard time getting a job in construction because of the people who would work cheaper. On that note - we have laws that keep us from working children (aka slave labor), and a minimum wage, yet we seem to think it's ok to hire people that'll work for $4 an hour. Talk about USING people! Call me strange, but I don't think it right that a person can steal a social security number and no one has a problem with it. What about crime? Someone kills your loved one and hey! We can't find them or trace them because they aren't on our roll books. I could go on and on. I love the idea of what our country was founded on, we're a beautiful melting pot! So, all the more reason not to put people in the position of having to hide and work for low wages. let's respect freedom loving people and fix our system so that they can come in and enjoy the true fruits of their labor. The bible tells us in the epistles to obey the laws of our land (and in that obeying God), so given the premise of our founding, we should receive people with open arms, but start by teaching them to respect the law so that they themselves can become law abiding productive citizens.
Sharon Swanepoel June 18, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Brian, that's not necessarily true. As I said before, I do know people who have had to close down businesses because they have tried to operate within the law. The law sets minimum wage rates, and legislates deductions etc. that make it difficult to comply. Illegal workers allow for those jobs to be done by people prepared to circumvent that system. It puts those operating within the law out of business. That is not OK and is definitely not people doing jobs that nobody else will do. I'll give you, that is the case in some instances - but definitely not the majority of instances - especially not today in this economy.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 18, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Yes Brian you are correct. The LOUSY economy of the OBAMA years has done more to help self DEPORT than any recent administration... But wait the private sector is doing JUST fine… WOW Prison firms that help write legislation … Almost as revolutionary as LaRaza championing open borders for the ILEGALS, er the undocumented …
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 18, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Brian The farmers who claimed to LOSE crops were operating ILEGALLY themselves by NOT using the FEDERAL H2A program. The H2A provides access to an UNLIMITED number of foreign seasonal workers and there are farmers that do COMPLY with the laws. Why should we support those farms that CHOOSE to break the laws themselves? As to the OLD argument that "they do jobs others won’t", that’s almost as old as the world being flat… it’s an urban legend now a days
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 18, 2012 at 08:43 PM
And to Tammy's point - that's what our LEGAL Immigration system does ... besides screening out diseases like TB, etc. Do YOU want your school aged child exposed in school with no recourse? It’s happened to hundreds (if not thousands) of GA school children and staff already.
Brian Crawford June 18, 2012 at 09:00 PM
I actually agree with most of what you said. So doesn't it follow that we should find a way to welcome those who were brought here as children and raised to be freedom loving Americans who have proven that they want to be contributing, documented members of our society? The Dream Act is the right thing to do and so are the actions President Obama took last Friday.
Brian Crawford June 18, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Sharon, I'm not talking about those who circumvent the law by paying less than the minimum wage. Farmers can't find enough workers even when they pay the legal wage. It's the same for most menial labor jobs.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 18, 2012 at 09:17 PM
@Brian YOU Blew right past H2A WHY? It provides a LEGAL path to ALL the labor you need - if you can't get it local.. Could it be you can't speak to farm operations?
Sharon Swanepoel June 18, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Brain, I think our conversation here shows that we're almost at a consensus as to what should be done, just not how it was done. One man (or woman's) choice is not the way to go. This one might work for you, but what if it was something you and the majority of the country was against. We don't know who might hold the office in the future and what they might think it is OK to impose. The system was set up to prevent that. Do it, but do it the right way.
North Georgia Weather June 18, 2012 at 09:33 PM
What happens when the 800,000 people who are now going to stay (and all within the childbearing years) have 3 kids each? Are we going to foot that bill like we do now? And then we'll say "oh, let's grant them amnesty now since their kids were born here." It never ends.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 18, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Because the method used by the Mr Obama skirts law ENFORCEMENT. He just told a massive group they are immune to prosecution. The common use of items or programs like this in other areas of government such as traffic tickets, taxes overdue or jury duty (like recently occurred in Fulton county) are usually referred to as AMNESTY, if there is NO penalty attached during the terms of the program. This one has no penalty. Mr. Obama did this WITHOUT clamping down RIGHT NOW on the ability for EVEN more to enter at our borders and claim the prize… I still don’t understand about this “work permit” thing. You mean you SUPPORT carrying PAPERS to prove a worker’s eligibility? I thought that was the major claim against many state bills that simply wanted immigrants to carry the papers ALREADY required by existing FEDERAL law because THAT was un-American? So will the permit requirement actually disappear after a “future” un-American uproar? So now regardless of what decision the Supreme Court actually makes, will this decree of policy, (that’s unwritten at this point) now mean that the States laws are no longer in agreement with the Federal Law as they were originally so painstakingly designed to be? All this without passage of any laws - even the Healthcare bill wasn’t done this way.
Brian Crawford June 18, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Because H2A isn't filling the need. http://www.11alive.com/news/article/237846/40/Growers-Too-few-workers-to-harvest-Vidalia-onions
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 18, 2012 at 11:27 PM
@Brian Are you serious? The reason you say H2A doesn't work is because the GOVERNMENT can't operate it!! YOU believe a government program affecting 800,000 plus is the way to go when the government can't process paperwork for 60 people... H2A has been around since the 1980s but he JUST started ... “This year, Stanley and other onion farmers BEGAN using a federal guest worker program called H2A. It basically imports workers from countries like Mexico, and then sends them back when the work is finished. "I had ordered 60 people (via H2A) with the paperwork and everything," Stanley said. But he said the government botched that request. "And now I've only got 17 people when I'm supposed to have 60. The excuse they gave me was, they lost my paperwork," Stanley said. " Hey... let’s STOP NOT enforcing laws and START fixing what we have already FIRST…
Brian Crawford June 19, 2012 at 02:49 PM
What exactly is being imposed here? This is simply a case of prosecutorial discretion combined with the creative use of existing work permit programs to offer hope to thousands of aspiring young people who are every bit American as you and I yet have no legal claim to citizenship. Personally I think what Obama has done is brilliant because it is forcing us to address an issue of fundamental unfairness that has been swept under the rug by years of poison politics. This is also a good opportunity to talk about the Republican abuse of the filibuster, which in itself is unconstitutional, because without it the Dream Act would have become law long ago. If you want to talk about imposing one's political will I suggest we start there.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 19, 2012 at 04:00 PM
And Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins NEVER break ranks...
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 19, 2012 at 04:25 PM
"creative" use of existing work permit programs BYPASSING current FEDERAL and State LAWS would seem to be a clue here. I believe the 60 vote was established by Democrats back in the day… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloture In 1975, the Democratic Senate majority, having achieved a net gain of four seats in the 1974 Senate elections to a strength of 61 (with an additional Independent caucusing with them for a total of 62), reduced the necessary supermajority to three-fifths (60 out of 100).[11] However, as a compromise to those who were against the revision, the new rule also changed the requirement for determining the number of votes needed for a cloture motion's passage from those Senators "present and voting" to those Senators "duly chosen and sworn". Thus, 60 votes for cloture would be necessary regardless of whether every Senator voted. The only time a lesser number would become acceptable is when a Senate seat is vacant. (For example, if there were two vacancies in the Senate, thereby making 98 Senators "duly chosen and sworn", it would only take 59 votes for a cloture motion to pass.)[9] The new version of the cloture rule, which has remained in place since 1975, makes it considerably easier for the Senate MAJORITY to invoke cloture. Harry Reid is STILL a DEM correct? So why not fix it FIRST - this isn’t a REPUBILCAN problem


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