CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE STATEMENT REGARDING DECISION OF U.S. SUPREME COURT TO REVIEW OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S IMMIGRATION EXECUTIVE ACTIONS
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee released the following statement today in response to the announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that it will review a challenge to the Obama Administration’s executive actions on immigration:
“I am confident the Suprme Court will uphold the Administration’s executive actions on immigration because they are consistent with precedents going back to President Eisenhower by focusing on commonsense priorities in immigration enforcement that strengthen our economy, secure our borders, and ensure that national resources are not squandered.
“The exercise of these authorities by President Obama is neither novel nor unprecedented. Article II of the U.S. Constitution vests the President, as Chief Executive, not only with the duty to enforce laws, but also the authority to decide how to do so. As the Supreme Court held in Arizona v. United States, 132 S. Ct. 2492, 2499 (2012), this executive discretion is broad enough to encompass within its scope the consideration of ‘immediate human concerns.’
“The Immigration Accountability Executive actions announced by the President will help secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules. These actions will help minimize the harm caused by congressional Republicans obstruction of efforts to reform the nation’s outdated immigration system by cracking down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritizing the deportation of felons not families, and requiring certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay in the United States without fear of deportation.
“In addition to his constitutional authority to enforce the law, the president has broad legal authority under the immigration law, regulations, and court rulings to grant several different types of administrative relief, including (1) deferred action; (2) deferred enforced departure; and (3) parole in place.
“Deferred action” is an administrative determination to defer the removal of individuals as an act of prosecutorial discretion. The legal authority for deferred action derives from Congress’s grant of authority to DHS to administer and enforce the immigration laws and the federal judiciary has acknowledged the validity of executive power to grant deferred action since the 1970s.
“Deferred enforced departure” (DED) is an administrative determination to defer the enforced departure of immigrants into dangerous situations such as where a natural disaster or domestic conflict has occurred that makes it dangerous for people from those countries to return. The President’s authority to defer enforced departures president derives from his constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations.
“Parole in place” is the authority granted the president by Congress to grant what is known as “parole in place,” pursuant to which the attorney general “may . . . in his discretion parole into the United States temporarily under such conditions as he may prescribe only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit any alien applying for admission to the United States.”
“Presidents of both parties have exercised these authorities several times over the past 35 years. For example, in 1980, President Carter exercised parole authority to allow Cubans to enter the U.S., and about 123,000 “Mariel Cubans” were paroled into the U.S. by 1981. In 1987, President Reagan used executive action to allow 200,000 Nicaraguans facing deportation to apply for relief from expulsion and work authorization.
“Similarly in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square massacre President George H.W. Bush issued an executive order that granted deferred enforced departure to certain nationals of the People’s Republic of China who were in the United States and President Clinton issued an executive order in 1997 granting DED to certain Haitians who had arrived in the U.S. before Dec. 31, 1995.
“As a nation of immigrants, the United States has set the example for the world as to what can be achieved when people of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences come together. President Obama has acted boldly, responsibly, and compassionately in exercising his constitutional authority to enforce the immigration laws in a manner that is effective, humane, within his constitutional and statutory authority, and consistent with our national values and character.
“The U.S. Supreme Court should act similarly and reject this misguided challenge to the President’s lawful executive actions on immigration.”
Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.