United States District Court Judge Andrew Hanen has denied a request from seven states to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows illegal aliens who crossed the border as children to stay in the United States.
Judge Hanen, who has ruled against related programs in the past, said that the states waited too long to file a temporary injunction and has also stated that DACA itself is illegal. Texas was the first state to file against the potentially unconstitutional order, and Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina and West Virginia joined the Lone Star state.
The judge wrote a 117 page opinion in which he said, “This court will not succumb to the temptation to set aside legal principles and to substitute its judgment in lieu of legislative action.” Hanen rejected the defendants’ – technically the federal government but represented by a series of pro-DACA states and non-profits – arguments, which included an appeal to DACA’s supposed popularity. “If the nation truly wants to have a DACA program, it is up to Congress to say so,” he wrote.
Weighing in on DACA
Ken Paxton, the attorney general for the southern district of Texas who is helping to lead the fight against DACA, commented on Hanen’s ruling. He said in a statement following the ruling that, “We’re now very confident that DACA will soon meet the same fate as the Obama-era Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, which the courts blocked after I led another state coalition challenging its constitutionality.”
Paxton also said:
“President Obama used DACA to rewrite federal law without congressional approval. Our lawsuit is vital to restoring the rule of law to our nation’s immigration system. The debate over DACA as policy is a question for lawmakers, and any solution must come from Congress, as the Constitution requires.”
Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley also weighed in, stating that the DOJ was happy with the decision and signaling the belief that DACA will not stand if and when it reaches the nation’s highest court.
Is DACA Constitutional?
Executive orders are supposed to be a directive from the president on how to execute existing law. The problem with DACA is that it allows a form of pseudo amnesty, which is illegal because there is no Congressional approval. By initiating the program via executive order, Obama legislated from the Oval Office because there was no congressional legislation on DACA. Many times former President Obama was asked why he would not implement a form of DACA, and he stated that it would be illegal, that Congress would need to act. Eventually, Obama took it upon himself to implement the program anyway.
Hanen did not strike down the program immediately. Instead, he left options for an appeal which will likely move through each level of the court system and land ultimately at the Supreme Court for a final ruling. The judge certified his decision making it ready for immediate repeal at the fifth circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, making his decision final on the district court level.
Hanen favors the idea of Congress taking care of the program, and letting them decide which side of the argument would speak the loudest in a vote by elected representatives and senators.
Many arguments from DACA advocates are based on emotion. Ultimately, this case does not weigh on feelings, but on an interpretation of the Constitution, which is clear on executive orders. It states that the president is to ensure that federal laws are faithfully executed and an executive order that is not based on a piece of legislation passed by Congress is not lawful.
At the end of the day, the left’s emotions are not more important than the U.S. Constitution.