Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Representing the 18th District of TEXAS


Apr 18, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee and its Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, released the following statement today after the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in United States, et al. v. Texas, et al., No. 15–674, a case brought by the State of Texas challenging the constitutional validity of President Obama executive actions on immigration:

“I am hopeful and anticipate that the Supreme Court will reject the challenge to President Obama’s immigration executive actions because are reasonable, responsible, within his constitutional authority, and supported by long standing precedent.

“The Supreme Court has consistently interpreted the “Take Care” Clause in Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution as ensuring presidential control over those who execute and enforce the law and  the authority to decide how best to enforce the laws. These cases included Arizona v. United States; Bowsher v. Synar; Buckley v. Valeo; Printz v. United States; and Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB.

“Indeed, the Court’s 2012 decision in the case of Arizona v. United States, strongly suggests that the executive branch’s discretion in matters of deportation may be exercised on an individual basis, or it may be used to protect entire classes of individuals.

“In exercising this broad discretion, President Obama has not done anything that is novel or unprecedented. Rather, his executive actions are consistent with the following actions taken by presidents, both Republican and Democratic, on issues affecting immigrants over the past 35 years:

1.     In 1987, President Ronald Reagan used executive action in 1987 to allow 200,000 Nicaraguans facing deportation to apply for relief from expulsion and work authorization.

2.    In 1980, President Jimmy 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.

3.    In 1990, President George H.W. Bush issued an executive order that granted Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to certain nationals of the People’s Republic of China who were in the United States.

4.    In 1992, the Bush administration granted DED to certain nationals of El Salvador.

5.    In 1997, President Bill Clinton issued an executive order granting DED to certain Haitians who had arrived in the United States before Dec. 31, 1995.

6.    In 2010, the Obama Administration began a policy of granting parole to the spouses, parents, and children of military members.

“We cannot perpetuate an obviously broken immigration system that tears families apart, dishonors our values as Americans, and fails to meet the needs of our country.  I look forward to the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the President’s immigration executive actions, and call upon the Republican congressional leadership to bring to the floor for a vote legislation that will comprehensive reform our broken immigration system.

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Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat representing Houston in the U.S. House of Representatives, is a senior member of the House Committees on Homeland Security and the Judiciary. She is the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations and a senior member of  the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.