Why Obama’s immigration amnesty is bad policy and should be blocked by the courts

Ever since Congress started limiting the numbers of immigrants, our courts have repeatedly found that protecting the jobs and wages of Americans was one of Congress’s “great” and “primary” purposes for limiting immigration.

In 2002, in Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. NLRB, the Supreme Court found “combating the employment of illegal aliens in the United States central to the policy of immigration law.” In overturning the decision of an executive branch agency to provide benefits to illegal aliens, the high court said that allowing such benefits would “unduly trench upon explicit statutory prohibitions critical to federal immigration policy” and “would encourage the successful evasion of apprehension by immigration authorities, condone prior violations of the immigration laws, and encourage future violations.”

But that is what President Obama is doing by ordering executive branch agencies to issue work authorization to five million illegal aliens so they can compete directly with American workers for jobs.

The latest official jobs report shows 8.6 million Americans unemployed and looking for work, plus 6.7 million involuntary part-time workers counted as employed but who can’t find full-time work, and 2.1 million marginally attached to the labor force and not looking for work, many discouraged by long unemployment. Nearly 47 million Americans are receiving food stamps, almost one in six.

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Lack of jobs with good wages is at the root of most of America’s social problems. Jobs have been outsourced and lost to automation. Does anyone think the technology and globalization revolutions have ended? But business leaders want more immigration to hold down labor costs and keep profits and the stock market rising.

It is Congress’s job to balance the interests of business and labor, to set limits on immigration that allow the economy to innovate and expand, while also allowing American workers to share in the prosperity of a growing economy. Congress has enacted immigration limitations that, in its judgment, strike the right balance, and it can modify those limitations at any time. But because President Obama has failed to get lawmakers to enact the modifications he wanted, he feels justified to unilaterally promulgate new immigration rules.

Low-wage American workers are organizing to demand a $15/hour wage. Good luck with that since employers know that President Obama will issue 5 million new work authorizations to illegal immigrants if the courts allow him to.

The courts should not allow him to. In 1952 the Supreme Court ruled that President Truman lacked authority to seize steel mills even in wartime in the absence of authority in the Constitution or conferred by Congress. As Justice Robert Jackson famously explained, “When the President acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress, his authority is at its maximum,” but, “When the President takes measures incompatible with the expressed or implied will of Congress, his power is at its lowest ebb.”


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