Five million people were just informed they don't have to worry about uprooting their entire lives and be sent back to a country they no longer call home. Five million people were just informed they will be able to come out of the shadows and not have to continue to constantly look over their shoulders. Five million people were just informed that a random traffic stop will not be the beginning of the end for them. And five million people were just told they can to go to bed tonight knowing that the President of the United States just told them they are welcome in this wonderful country.
Whether you personally agree with President Obama's executive order does not matter much. The only thing that matters is if the President has the Constitutional authority to make such a decision. That answer is a resounding yes--the President of the United States has the full legal authority to issue executive orders, as evidenced by numerous Supreme Court opinions and two hundred plus years of precedent. Here are a few reasons President Obama's executive order is Constitutional and will not be overturned by Congress or the Courts.1. President's have issued Executive Orders since we became a republic.
Every single President, except for one, has issued Executive Orders. George Washington claimed he had the authority under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution to issue executive orders Some Presidents have used this authority much more than others. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued 3,522 Executive Orders while William Henry Harrison issued zero, but it should be noted that Harrison died one month after being sworn in. And does anyone think President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was a bad idea? That was an Executive Order, as well.2. President's have wide discretion to determine how an existing federal law should be enforced.
Multiple Supreme Court opinions have upheld the President's right to submit orders explaining how they will enforce existing laws. Immigration laws are not immune from those rulings. Multiple Presidents have issued executive orders on immigration, most notably President Ronald Reagan in 1987. The fact that Republicans are so willing to accept President Reagan's right to submit an executive order, but cry foul when it comes to President Obama, only shows this debate is more about politics than law.3. The Supreme Court has already said the President and immigration officials have 'broad discretion' in enforcing immigration laws.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, in a 2012 opinion striking down Arizona's anti-immigrant law, wrote the following:
A principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials. Federal officials, as an initial matter, must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all.
If removal proceedings commence, aliens may seek asylum and other discretionary relief allowing them to remain in the country or at least to leave without formal removal. ( Arizona v. United States
Translated into layman's terms--the President has the authority to decide who should and shouldn't be deported. Immigration is a Federal issue and the Executive branch has the right to see the law be enforced in the best way they see fit. That is why we have a President and why President's are able to submit orders explaining how they will enforce existing laws.
Congress knows all of this and fully understands that there is next to nothing they can do to stop President Obama from implementing this executive order. That is why their reaction is more about politics and less about law. Republicans know they don't have a solid standing with law, so they will use politics to muddy the debate. We shouldn't let them get away with it.