The primary thrust of Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s decision to join 25 other states in suing over the president’s executive orders blocking deportation of millions of illegal immigrants is strictly about the rule of law and the limited powers granted by the Constitution.
The lawsuit spearheaded by the state of Texas and filed in federal court in Brownsville states clearly in its second paragraph: “This lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law, presidential power, and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution.”
In his press release announcing the state’s joining the list of plaintiffs, Laxalt also stated: “Our immigration system is broken and clearly needs to be fixed. But just as clearly, the solution is not for the president to act unilaterally disregarding the U.S. Constitution and laws. The solution must be a permanent, legal result that includes, not ignores, the other branches of government and their constitutional roles. Anything less is a false hope undermining the rule of law that injures millions of people in America, including many in Nevada.”
Nevada joined the suit the day after federal Judge Andrew Hanen heard arguments in the case. Judge Hanen repeatedly pressed the Justice Department attorney to explain by what legal authority President Obama could take such action.
Hanen is the judge who two years ago basically accused the Department of Homeland Security of aiding and abetting child smuggling when it stopped a smuggler bringing a 10-year-old El Salvadoran girl into the U.S., but then delivered the girl to her mother who had paid $8,500 to the smuggler.
The judge noted that the DHS failed to arrest the mother for instigating the conspiracy to violate our border security laws, but instead delivered the child to her — “thus successfully completing the mission of the criminal conspiracy. It did not arrest her. It did not prosecute her. It did not even initiate deportation proceedings for her. The DHS policy is a dangerous course of action. …”
The federal lawsuit joined by Laxalt points out that the DREAM Act that would have allowed children brought into this country illegally to stay was introduced in March 2009. After that Obama said on at least eight occasions he could not himself impose such amnesty.
“I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself. …” he said. “I can’t just make the laws up by myself.”
In June 2012, Obama did just that, announcing the sweeping Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), even though his own Justice Department advised that immigration officials should be required “to evaluate each application for deferred action on a case-by-case basis, rather than granting deferred action automatically to all applicants …”
The acceptance rate for DACA applicants is more than 99.5 percent. Sounds automatic.
After that there was a clamor to not break up families and let the parents of those children remain in this country, too. To which Obama said on at least nine occasions, according to the lawsuit, that he did not have that power: “I’m not a king. I am the head of the executive branch of government. I’m required to follow the law.”
In November, Obama unilaterally waived deportations for the parents, candidly admitting, “I just took an action to change the law,” even though his own Justice Department advised “the proposed deferred action program for parents of DACA recipients would not be permissible.”
The lawsuit also points out the president’s action is costly to the states, because they are the ones who must pay for the health care, education and law enforcement related to those immigrants who have been given an incentive to come here and now accommodated to stay here.
Though the president has argued his actions amount to prosecutorial discretion, the suit notes he went far beyond that discretion, allowing them to be employed and benefit from Social Security and Medicaid.
All of these actions are the purview of Congress. The president is required by the Constitution to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
We applaud the attorney general in joining in this quest to restore the rule of law. — TM
Thomas Mitchell is a longtime Nevada newspaper columnist. You may email him at email@example.com. He also blogs at http://4thst8.wordpress.com/.