The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit today ruled that President Obama cannot move forward with his plans to overhaul immigration rules by providing up to five million people with work permits and protection from deportation (not that the government is actually going to deport any of these people). This represents the latest blow to Obama’s unlawful effort, in effect, to charge immigration law without the consent of Congress.
The executive action under challenge would enable an estimated 4 to 5 million illegal immigrants who are parents of illegal immigrants who entered this country as children to apply for delayed deportation and work permits for a three-year period. Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew ruled that this program — known as DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents — should have been subjected to the rule-making process. Accordingly, he enjoined the administration from implementing DAPA. We discussed his decision here.
Now, by a vote of 2-1, a panel of the Fifth Circuit has affirmed Judge Hanen’s ruling, meaning that the injunction stays in place. Judge Jerry Smith, a Reagan appointee (for whom Sen. Tom Cotton once clerked), wrote the opinion. He was joined by Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, a George W. Bush appointee. Judge Carolyn Dineen King, a Carter appointee, dissented.
Texas is the lead plaintiff in the case. Its attorney general, Ken Paxton, said that through today’s decision, the Fifth Circuit has “asserted that the separation of powers remains the law of the land, and the president must follow the rule of law, just like everybody else.” Paxton added that “throughout this process, the Obama Administration has aggressively disregarded the constitutional limits on executive power, and Texas, leading a charge of 26 states, has secured an important victory to put a halt to the president’s lawlessness.”
As of this evening, the Obama administration Justice Department had not returned a request for comment.
The case is almost certainly headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The administration hopes this happens by the end of the current term, i.e., June 2016. That way, if Team Obama prevails, the program can be implemented before Obama leaves office.
In the meantime, Obama’s executive amnesty is stymied.
NOTE: The first sentence of this post has been modified slightly and now includes a link to the Fifth Circuit’s opinion.