Legal Battle Continues Against Executive Overreach

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Constitution’s system of checks and balances was designed to keep one branch of the government from becoming more powerful than the others. Today, that time-tested system is important to restraining President Obama’s continued abuse of executive power.
Mississippi Supports Court Challenge
On February 16, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a temporary injunction to block the Obama Administration’s attempted overhaul of immigration law. As Hanen noted, “The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle” if the President’s far-reaching plan were implemented before its challenge in the courts is resolved. President Obama’s actions are being challenged as unconstitutional in a lawsuit filed by Mississippi and 25 other states.

The executive action in question is President Obama’s unilateral expansion of a deferred deportation program, effectively granting temporary legal status and work permits to nearly five million illegal immigrants. Announced last November, the brazen power grab not only usurps the authority of Congress, which is responsible for writing and amending federal law, but it would also impose billions of dollars in costs on states. Following the court order, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promptly suspended the President’s initiative. Applications for the expanded program were set to begin just hours later on February 18.

I oppose amnesty for immigrants who have entered illegally or overstayed their visas. I have also been an outspoken critic of President Obama’s relentless executive actions, which undermine the democratic process and rule of law. There is support in both political parties for comprehensive immigration reform that reinforces our borders and strengthens national security by fixing a broken system. The President’s decision not to work with Congress misses a significant opportunity for meaningful bipartisan action. Instead, he has provoked a legal battle that many predict will end up before the Supreme Court. The President should not be surprised. Even he has described executive action on immigration as “ignoring the law.”
Democrats Obstruct Homeland Security Funding
Because the legislative branch holds the power of the purse, lawmakers are responsible for authorizing and appropriating funds to federal agencies, including DHS. One of the most urgent items for Congress to approve is homeland security funding. DHS funds are set to run out at the end of this month.

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The House of Representatives has passed a measure that would fund DHS and prohibit the President’s unconstitutional actions, but it has yet to be approved by the Senate. Democrats continue to filibuster a routine procedural vote that would bring the measure to the floor for debate.

Criticism of the President’s immigration proposal transcends party lines. In recent weeks, several Democrats have openly opposed the President’s amnesty order. I am hopeful that the court’s action will help persuade Democrats to allow debate on the bill.
Obama’s Legacy of Legal Fights
The President’s immigration policy is just one example of the deliberate executive overreach that has characterized his time in office. Sweeping directives affecting health care and the environment have also ended up in the courts, where they have yet to be settled.

We can be thankful that our Founders recognized the danger of having too much power in one branch of government. More than two-and-a-quarter centuries after the Constitution was written, the checks and balances it established remain crucial to preserving our democracy and the will of the people.

By Senator Roger Wicker