Apr 05 2016

Alabama Political Reporter: Shelby and Sessions Join Amicus Brief Challenging President’s Immigration Executive Actions

On Monday, April 4 U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions (both R from Alabama) joined 41 of their Senate colleagues in filing an amicus brief that supports a challenge to the Obama Administration’s executive actions on immigration, questioning the constitutionality of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) policy. Arguments for the case, United States of America vs. State of Texas, will be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 18th.

Senator Shelby said, “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.’ Such an action stands in stark contravention to federal law and to the constitutional principle of the separation of powers.”

The Senators’ amicus brief states. “There is little doubt that the Executive adopted the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (‘DAPA’) program as part of an explicit effort to circumvent the legislative process.”

Senator Shelby joined the amicus brief with the following Senators: Alexander, Barrasso, Blunt, Boozman, Capito, Cassidy, Coats, Cochran, Corker, Cornyn, Cotton, Crapo, Cruz, Daines, Enzi, Fischer, Graham, Grassley, Hatch, Hoeven, Inhofe, Isakson, Johnson, Lankford, Lee, McCain, McConnell, Moran, Paul, Perdue, Risch, Roberts, Rounds, Rubio, Sasse, Scott, Sessions, Sullivan, Thune, Tillis, Vitter, and Wicker.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R from Texas) said, “Congress has never given the Executive unchecked discretion to rewrite federal immigration policy”

The challenge is led by the State of Texas and includes a majority of the nation’s governors and state attorneys general.

The U.S. Supreme Court took up this case (United States of America v. State of Texas) after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in November of 2015 affirmed a preliminary injunction by a federal district court in Brownsville, Texas, blocking the Obama Administration from moving forward with its executive actions on immigration. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in this case on April 18.

The brief states, “The Executive has a constitutional duty to faithfully execute the immigration laws and, in so doing, may implement rules for the administration of those laws. Yet Congress has never given the Executive unchecked discretion to rewrite federal immigration policy or to fashion its own immigration code. In this case, the Executive sought to do precisely that by granting ‘lawful presence’—and the governmental benefits that come with it—and work authorization to over 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 amicus brief by the Senators continues, “There is little doubt that the Executive adopted the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (‘DAPA’) program as part of an explicit effort to circumvent the legislative process… For decades, Congress has acted with great care to prescribe the categories of foreign nationals who may enter this country, who may remain, who among them may be allowed to obtain employment, and who may enjoy benefits under federal law. To elevate the Executive’s policy preferences above those encoded in federal law would eviscerate the comprehensive scheme that Congress has enacted, and disrupt the balance of powers between the political branches.”

The brief continues: “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.’ U.S. Const. art. I, § 8. Such an action stands in stark contravention to federal law and to the constitutional principle of the separation of powers.”

In addition to Sen. Cruz, Shelby, and Sessions the 40 senators who joined the amicus brief are Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Senators Shelby, Sessions, and Cruz have been staunchly opposed to President Barack H. Obama’s immigration policies.