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Experts/Observers: Immigration Executive Actions Are Legal, Build on Precedent; “Take Care” Clause Inclusion Is Positive

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Political Stakes Couldn’t be Higher For GOP

In light of the news that the Supreme Court will hear US v Texas, the case to decide the fate of DAPA/DACA expansion executive action immigration programs, key observers and voices are weighing in.  Below are key assessments and voices making the case that the executive action programs are legal, that the Court’s decision to also rule on the “take care” clause is a good thing for immigrants, and that the political stakes are huge – especially for especially for Latino, APIA, and pro-immigrant voters who will be watching closely.

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center in NBC News

“The legal argument is clear: President Obama, like every president before him for nearly half a century, can and should exercise discretion in immigration matters.  But the moral, economic, and societal arguments in favor of the president’s immigration initiatives are no less important.”

 Saikrishna Prakash, University of Virginia Law Professor, to the Wall Street Journal 

The Journal’s Joe Palazzolo notes, “Saikrishna Prakash, a law professor at University of Virginia, used an analogy to describe the issues facing the court. Highway patrol officers can’t possibly pull over every vehicle that breaks the speed limit. If they decided, informally, to stop only those driving more than 10 miles over the speed limit, no one would question their discretion to do so, he said. The DAPA program is akin to the highway patrol putting its speed cutoff in writing, Mr. Prakash said. ‘And that raises people’s hackles, in part, because it seems like [President Obama] is giving them a license to speed,’ he said. But unless Congress were to provide enough funding for the administration to deport every illegal immigrant, it must grant some discretion to the president in how he uses the limited resources he’s given, Mr. Prakash said.”

Bradley Jenkins, attorney for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, to NBC News 

“It’s encouraging that the Supreme Court actually ordered both sides to address the full case, and not just the procedural issues that the lower courts focused on.  This is a signal that the Court wants to give a final answer on the validity of the executive actions and is not inclined to send the case back to (U.S. District) Judge (Andrew) Hanen.”

Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center to The Hill

Mike Lillis of The Hill newspaper quotes Wydra as saying, “’It’s a good sign that the court is taking all of these issues [indicating] that it wants to resolve the case once and for all,’” Lillis adds, “Advocates point to the 2012 Arizona case, which challenged Arizona’s law empowering local law enforcers to arrest people based on suspicions that they were in the country illegally, as the precedent they’re hoping the court will adopt four years later.”

New York Times editorial, “The Supreme Court, the Nativists and Immigrants” 

“The Supreme Court explicitly stated in 2012 that the federal government had ‘broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens’ under the Constitution … In their brief to the Supreme Court, the states concede that the president has discretion to enforce immigration laws in individual cases. But they argue he does not have power to alter the legal status of entire classes of people. This mischaracterizes the president’s actions. Presidents of both parties have long used their authority to enforce immigration laws selectively, so as to be ‘efficient, rational and humane,’ as a group of former immigration and Homeland Security officials wrote in a brief to the court. For example, both the Reagan and first Bush administrations provided relief from deportation to spouses and children of those eligible for legalization — a class of people whom Congress had expressly declined to protect in the 1986 immigration reform law.

“Apart from the fallacious argument on the president’s powers, the states have no standing to sue. Texas claims that it has that right simply because it thinks the president’s orders would harm its economy. If the court were to accept this kind of claim, it would mean that any time a state or city opposed a federal action, it could drag that political dispute into the courts … Congress should have passed comprehensive immigration reform years ago, rather than, say, threatening to impeach the president when he took on the issue. Mr. Obama is wholly within his authority to make wise use of limited enforcement resources. The Supreme Court has already recognized this fact; now it needs to reiterate it.”

La Opinión editorial, “A Decision that Offers Hope

The nation’s largest Spanish language daily newspaper writes, “The Court’s decision reopens the legal case and places at the center of the presidential campaign the situation of those who have established roots in this country despite not having papers. This is the best news for the children of undocumented people who were brought into the U.S. as minors and for parents of U.S. citizens … It is estimated that a final verdict on DACA and DAPA will be reached in June or July, placing a hot potato in the middle of the presidential election’s playing field. A favorable decision would put whoever ends up being the Republican candidate in an awkward position, as all contenders have listed striking down the executive orders at the top of their priorities. Regardless of the decision, the case will rouse voters in favor and against immigration.” 

Greg Sargent of the Washington PostThe Supreme Court Is Set To Detonate A Bomb In The Middle Of The Presidential Election

“No matter what the Court decides in June, it will probably set off a bomb in the middle of the presidential election. Here’s why: If the Court allows DAPA to proceed, it will probably enrage the right and increase pressure on the GOP nominee — or the GOP candidates if there isn’t a nominee by then — to promise to reverse DAPA as president. Thus the GOP nominee may well end up redoubling his commitment to revoking the protection from deportation enjoyed by millions of immigrants. Alternatively, if DAPA is struck down, it will reignite the debate over what should be done about the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country. That could serve as a reminder that the GOP positions on this question range from proactive mass deportation (Donald Trump) to leaving them in the shadows and deporting them as the occasion arises (Ted Cruz) to maybe legalizing them at some undetermined point in the future once some undefined state of border security perfection is attained (Marco Rubio). And Republicans will be cheering the legal defeat of Obama’s efforts to shield millions from deportations. Obviously Republicans might argue that this is a good debate for them — that swing voters don’t like Obama’s executive actions on behalf of immigrants and that it energizes the GOP base. Even if that is right, however, what will probably matter most for 2016 is how this battle colors the views of the two parties arrived upon by Latino voters. (Indeed, some GOP strategists clearly agree that this is the case, given their efforts to get the GOP to moderate on immigration.) And in that regard, whatever happens at the Court, it’s hard to see this debate playing in the GOP’s favor.”

James Oliphant of Reuters: “Immigration Case Could Hurt Republican Outreach To U.S. Hispanics

“For a Republican Party trying to woo Hispanic voters, the timing of the U.S. Supreme Court’s review of the legality of President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration could not come at a more awkward time.  The case, which will consider whether Obama exceeded his constitutional authority to spare from deportation millions of immigrants in the country illegally, is set to be argued in the coming months with a decision due by the end of June.  That would land the issue squarely in the middle of the U.S. presidential race, just weeks before Republicans gather for their convention to choose a nominee in November’s election.  A Supreme Court win for the Republican-governed states that sued to block Obama’s action surely would have conservatives in the party celebrating but might have those in the party who are concerned about reaching Hispanic voters fretting.”