Attorneys for the State of Texas went in to federal court this week to argue that President Obama’s executive action on immigration, announced last November, is illegal and that immigration officials who enforce the new measures will be breaking the law. Along with about half of the states, the attorneys for the large border state had the opportunity for oral argument in the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas which itself resides on the southern border with Mexico.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen took the matter under advisement and has yet to make any ruling on the lawsuit. Andrew Oldham, an attorney for Texas, told Hanen at the hearing that, “The president does not get to decide what the law is.” Oldham is seeking an injunction to at least temporarily block the order from going in to effect although the ultimate goal is to stop the President’s action permanently. The states joining Texas say Obama violated the Constitution and lacks authority to grant federal benefits to people who enter the country illegally.
On the other side, U.S. lawyers today urged Hanen to deny the states’ bid, arguing that the federal government has broad discretion under the Constitution to “prioritize enforcement resources.” “The purpose of this policy is to continue to focus on our priorities, which are to stop border crossings and remove threats to our nation,” Kathleen Hartnett, a Justice Department lawyer, told the judge. Historically speaking the federal government has maintained a unique role controlling most aspects of federal immigration policy and attempts by states to interfere with that role have often been rebuffed. At issue here is whether the federal government’s need to choose how it uses its limited resources provides a legal basis to the President’s initiatives. Congress ordered immigration officials to prioritize the removal of criminals and recent immigrants who lacked family ties but didn’t provide the Department of Homeland Security with sufficient funding to do so, Hartnett said. By shifting away from “low-priority aliens,” Homeland Security can spend more on catching dangerous immigrants and those without family ties to the U.S., she said.
The Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to the process of immigration to the United States particularly where special programs are created for immigrants from particular countries.