In a 4-4 split decision, the Supreme Court this week effectively upheld a lower court’s decision to block President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Those actions, delivered in November 2014, would have granted amnesty to more than 5 million illegal immigrants – the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful residents. But while legal experts have said that Obama enjoys the right to exercise prosecutorial discretion when it comes to deporting illegals, granting them work permits and various other forms of legal benefits was beyond the realm of his presidential power.
At one point, it appeared that even Obama himself understood this basic concept. A year before his actions, he said that he could not expand his DREAM act to give protections to other illegal immigrant groups. “If we start broadening that,” he said, “then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally.”
He obviously had a change of heart, because he went ahead with new actions the following year and inspired Texas and 25 other states to slap the federal government with a lawsuit. The man at the forefront of that suit – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton – said the non-ruling was victory enough for him.
“Today’s decision keeps in place what we have maintained from the very start: One person, even a president, cannot unilaterally change the law,” Paxton said in a statement. “This is a major setback to President Obama’s attempts to expand executive power, and a victory for those who believe in the separation of powers and the rule of law.”
The ruling adds fuel to an already potent fire that promises to light up the general election this fall. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has made immigration enforcement one of the centerpieces of his campaign, and his likely opponent – Hillary Clinton – has vowed to go even further than Obama in protecting illegals from deportation. The list of policy differences between the two candidates is a long one, but immigration may turn out to be one of the defining issues.
In a week that also included a shocking “Leave” vote for Britain, it is clear that many in the West are growing deeply concerned about extraordinary rates of immigration. And if that is a harbinger for things to come in the United States, Democrats and their pro-illegal-immigrant agenda may face some stiff opposition at the polls this November.