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Immigration News 2016 Today: GOP Senators Challenge Obama's Immigration Executive Actions in Supreme Court Lawsuit

First Posted: Apr 05, 2016 02:09 PM EDT

A coalition of U.S. Republican senators filed a U.S. Supreme Court brief challenging the legality of President Barack Obama's immigration executive actions.

'An Explicit Effort To Circumvent The Legislative Process'

Signed by 43 GOP senators, including and led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the amicus brief to the Supreme Court supports fellow Republicans, namely governors and attorneys general, who are seeking to block Obama's November 2014 executive actions, which introduced the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

"Given that the Executive has asserted that the acts challenged here are not even subject to judicial review, what is at stake in this matter is nothing less than an effort to supplant Congress's constitutional power to 'establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,'" wrote the 43 GOP senators. "Such an action stands in stark contravention to federal law and to the constitutional principle of the separation of powers."

According to the brief, which received support from Latino Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, Obama reportedly introduced DAPA as an "explicit effort" to go around congressional action. Obama has said on numerous occasions the DAPA and DACA programs were introduced as a result of congressional gridlock and would withdraw the programs once comprehensive immigration reform passes.

The amicus brief acknowledges Congress has never given the Obama or the executive branch the discretion to rewrite federal immigration policy or code. The brief continues to say that the Obama administration is seeking to grant "lawful presence," governmental benefits that come with legal status and work authorization to more than four million "aliens who are illegally present in the United States and who are otherwise barred from working here or receiving federal benefits under the statutes that Congress has enacted.

The Republican senators, also including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona and Jeff Sessions of Iowa, believe if Obama grants lawful presence to four million undocumented immigrants, then he could extend his "prosecutorial discretion" to grant legal status to the remaining millions of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S.

Challenging DAPA and DACA+ in the House of Representatives

Back on March 16, over in the House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Republicans passed a resolution granting him the right to also file an amicus brief opposing Obama's immigration executive actions. According to Ryan, who introduced the resolution, the amicus brief would represent the entire House of Representatives in an effort to defend the U.S. Constitution, specifically Article I.

"In recent years, the executive branch has been blurring these boundaries, to the point of absolutely overstepping them altogether. As a result, bureaucrats responsible for executing the laws as written are now writing the laws at their whim," said Ryan in defending H.Res.639 and Article I of the Constitution.

H.Res.639 passed, 234 in favor and 186 against. All House Democrats who were present voted against the resolution, along with five Republicans, including Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.

The actions by House and Senate Republicans come ahead of the Supreme Court hearing arguments about the executive actions on April 18. The Supreme Court will not announce its decision, whether to block or grant DAPA and DACA's expansion, until an unknown date in June.

Former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who now serves as the Lone Star State's governor, initiated the lawsuit against Obama's executive actions in late 2014. Abbott claimed Obama breached his executive authority and didn't consider financial impacts affecting U.S. states. After appeals, the Obama administration encountered setbacks in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which provided the temporary injunction preventing the federal government from implementing DACA's expanded guidelines and DAPA. The U.S. Department of Justice has since requested the Supreme Court review the case, and the court agreed.

Abbott's lawsuit has the support from other Republican governors and attorneys general from Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.


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