Last week’s decision — or rather, lack of a decision — from the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States regarding President Barack Obama’s immigration plan serves as a rebuke of the use of executive orders. But equally important, it highlights the problems that are exacerbated by a do-nothing Congress.
The court, which has been reduced to eight members since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, deadlocked in a 4-4 vote regarding immigration. In late 2014, Obama had issued an executive order that gave qualifying illegal immigrants relief from the fear of deportation, allowing them to apply for work authorization and associated benefits. The program targeted more than 4 million undocumented parents of U.S. citizens, plus non-citizens who were brought to the country as children.
The program was quickly challenged in court, and the Supreme Court deadlock sends the issue back to a lower court. Critics of the program hailed the result as a victory for the separation of powers as spelled out in the Constitution, and as a defeat for an overreaching president. “The Constitution is clear: The president is not permitted to write laws — only Congress is,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said.
Indeed. So Congress should get busy. Immigration reform has been needed for years, but Congress has been derelict in its duties.
Never miss a local story.
To start with, we can dismiss Donald Trump’s interest in deporting the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. It is unrealistic to deport 11 million people from this country. Therefore, some middle ground is required.
Lax enforcement of immigration policy has existed since long before Obama. Having millions of illegal immigrants in this country demands that some are provided with a pathway to citizenship, that some are deported, and broken system gets fixed. Members of Congress should start doing their jobs.