• IRLI Staff

Texas v. United States of America

On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced a series of executive actions that suspended our immigration laws as applied to 4 million plus illegal aliens. In part, the president sought to defer the removal of these illegal aliens and grant them work permits, social security numbers, and other benefits, all to the detriment of America’s working class and taxpayers, especially the most vulnerable Americans, including minorities, students, and seniors. Shortly after the announcement, a large coalition of states, governors, and state attorneys general filed a federal lawsuit against the United States and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to block implementation of the executive actions that expanded the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and created the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program.

IRLI submitted a friend-of-the-court brief (attached below) in support of the plaintiff states’ request for a preliminary injunction. IRLI’s brief focused on identifying and explaining the interrelated operation of federal immigration statutes that in effect restrict the exercise of executive discretion in the field of immigration admissions and removals. A second section of the brief reviewed instances of deferred action since the 1950s to demonstrate that Congress has never acquiesced to any form of informal executive deferred action except in the narrowest of circumstances. In this regard, IRLI’s brief was unique. Our rapid response to the Texas attorney general’s request for a brief was possible due to the background research on executive discretion in immigration law undertaken by IRLI dating back to 2011.

Just days before the expanded DACA and DAPA programs were to be implemented at the agency level, District Judge Andrew Hanen granted the plaintiff states’ motion for preliminary injunction, effectively halting implementation of the programs until a trial on the merits of the lawsuit. Judge Hanen’s opinion largely focused on procedural failures by government immigration officials, but where his order and memorandum did touch on substantive issues of immigration law and separation of powers doctrine, it closely followed IRLI’s analysis of the mandatory character of certain Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provisions.

The federal government appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In the spring of 2015, IRLI filed another friend-of-the-court brief (attached below) on behalf of the plaintiff states, this time joined by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, The Remembrance Project, and the National Sheriffs’ Association. The Fifth Circuit subsequently denied the federal government’s motion to stay the lower court’s injunction.

On November 9, 2015, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s injunction against the Obama administration’s unlawful amnesty agenda—a great victory for the rule of law and for the American people! The court went beyond affirming the district court’s standing and procedural Administrative Procedure Act (APA) ruling and ruled that the programs also violate substantive APA provisions. The court completely dismissed the statutory authority the administration claimed it has to implement DAPA and expanded DACA: The broad grants of authority in the relevant statutes “cannot reasonably be construed as assigning ‘decisions of vast “economic and political significance,”’ such as DAPA, to an agency.” The court continued, “The interpretation of those provisions that the Secretary advances would allow him to grant lawful presence and work authorization to any illegal alien in the United States—an untenable position in light of the INA’s intricate system of immigration classifications and employment eligibility.”

As part of their argument to overturn the district court’s injunction, the president’s attorneys argued that government decisions to allocate deferred action benefits cannot be reviewed by federal courts in light of the Supreme Court’s 1996 decision in Reno v. Anti-Arab American Discrimination Commission. In rejecting this assertion, the Fifth Circuit adopted the arguments made in IRLI’s brief that the statutory provisions cited by the President’s attorneys did circumscribe some authority of the courts to hear appeals of agency decisions to remove an inadmissible alien, but only for claims brought by or on behalf of an alien, and only in regards to an agency decision to “commence proceedings, adjudicate cases, or execute removal orders.” Neither applies to a situation where claims are brought by injured states and where the actions in question—the giving out of amnesty and federal benefits—do not arise out of the three discrete decisions the Supreme Court mentioned.

In late November of 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In December of 2015, IRLI filed a brief opposing the government’s appeal (attached below), representing the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, Local 37083 of the Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO, an American tech workers union, and Save Jobs USA, an association of American tech workers. In its brief, IRLI argued that it would be premature for the Court to consider the appeal as the case was not fully developed, a mere grant of a preliminary injunction motion, when more fully developed cases were making their way through the courts.

See also:

IRLI Files Two Briefs in the Supreme Court Opposing President Obama’s Attempt to Grant Mass Amnesty by Executive Action, April 4, 2016

Justice Sotomayor Should Recuse Herself From Obama’s Amnesty Appeal, February 4, 2016

IRLI Files Supreme Court Brief Challenging Obama Administration’s Executive Amnesty Appeal, December 17, 2015

IRLI Praises Federal Appeals Court Ruling Upholding Injunction Against Obama’s Amnesty and Work Permits Giveaway, November 10, 2015

Leaked DHS memo shows Obama might circumvent DAPA injunction, November 2, 2015

IRLI files amicus brief in Fifth Circuit supporting DACA challenge, July 2, 2015

Why the Fifth Circuit Smacked Down Obama’s Immigration Appeal, May 27, 2015

IRLI Praises Federal Appeals Court Ruling Upholding Injunction of Obama’s Unlawful Amnesty Programs, May 27, 2015

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Denies Obama Administration’s Request to Implement Illegal Amnesty, May 26, 2015

The Fifth Circuit Should Keep The Freeze On Obama’s Executive Amnesty, May 15, 2015

IRLI Files Amicus Brief in Fifth Circuit Challenging Obama’s Executive Action, May 11, 2015

Amnesty Advocates Enable Social Security, Identity Fraud, Overwhelmingly Hurting Children, April 15, 2015

Amnesty Confusion in the Courts, April 13, 2015

Dems Misuse Supreme Court Precedent In Pro-Amnesty Court Brief, April 9, 2015

IRLI Counsel Testifies before the U.S. Senate about the Latest Court Challenge against the Obama Administration’s Decree of Amnesty, March 19, 2015

DOJ Attorneys Tell District Court Amnesty Benefits Are Legal, Temporary — Other Officials Say The Opposite, March 11, 2015

DOJ Claims TX Ruling Against Amnesty Only Matters in One District, March 5, 2015

Texas v. USA: DOJ’s request for stay lacks merit, March 2, 2015

Yes, Amnesty Encourages More Illegal Immigration, February 26, 2015

Judge Hanen: Obama’s DAPA and extended-DACA violate the APA, February 20, 2015

Obama’s legal team has its history all wrong, February 19, 2015

IRLI Praises Federal Court Ruling Halting the Obama Administration’s Executive Actions Granting Amnesty, February 17, 2015

DHS Funding Inquiry Could Be Used To Delay Obama’s Executive Amnesty, February 17, 2015

Professor Blackman Again Shreds Obama’s Legal Justification for DACA and DAPA, February 9, 2015

Professor Blackman: Obama Administration’s Legal Justification for Amnesty Is “Misleadingly Superficial” and “Demonstrably False”, February 2, 2015

Immigration Reform That Doesn’t ‘Turn Off The Magnet’ Is Useless And Needlessly Expensive, January 28, 2015

Plaintiff States Lay out a Comprehensive Case for Legal Standing in Texas v. United States, January 22, 2015

Cato and Constitutional Law Scholars file Joint Brief against Amnesty in Texas v. US, January 15, 2015

IRLI Brief Shows Obama’s Latest Amnesty Decree Is Unconstitutional, January 12, 2015

IRLI Joins Half the States in the Union in their Fight against the Obama Administration’s Executive Actions on Amnesty, January 7, 2015

Twenty-Five States File for Injunctive Relief in Federal District Court against Obama’s Latest Amnesty Decree, January 7, 2015

IRLI is a supporting organization of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

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