Political Questions About Immigration Reform Seldom Reach Court

Law Firm Newswire



Miami, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 4, 2014 – Politicians did not like President Obama suggesting he intended to use his executive powers to deal with immigration reform. They suggested such a move had the potential to completely destroy reform prospects.

President Obama had indicated he intended to use his executive powers to do something about immigration reform, since the House did nothing about it in August. At the same time, a set of politicians were attempting to sue the president for allegedly abusing his executive powers. 
“Another faction said that granting temporary, questionable legal status to illegal aliens, without dealing with border security or protecting American workers, increases the likelihood that people perceive the laws as ambiguous, and choose to illegally immigrate to the United States as a result,” said Larry Rifkin, a Miami immigration lawyer.

In retrospect, the fact that the House broke up and left immigration reform hanging while Representatives went home to get ready for an election speaks volumes about their lack of commitment to concrete immigration reform. At least Obama seemed to be willing to take matters in hand. 
Would that action, had it taken place, have become a legal issue?

“It may or may not have. Historically, U.S. courts have ruled inconsistently on executive power and the checks and balances inherent in it. Courts tend to consider it to be outside their purview. Others say the President has no power to forge ahead by using executive powers legally. It’s a divisive issue,” added Rifkin. 

Courts often refuse to hear cases that involve political questions.

Last month, Obama was signalling he was prepared to act. Had he signed an executive order to kickstart immigration reform, it may have allowed his critics an excuse to try and take him to court. Politically speaking, his actions may have backfired for members of his party seeking a return to power in the Congressional election. Regardless, the point is now moot; the president backed away from signing any order.

Immigration reform, as an issue, extends beyond the government’s purview in any of the three branches. Finding complete solutions has proven impossible time and again. As a result, reform limps along, getting worse with each passing year but still meeting with resistance to make any changes. “It reminds me of the adage, “Sometimes the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t,” Rifkin remarked. But is it really?