Several of Arkansas’ Republican elected officials reacted favorably Thursday to a tie vote by the U.S. Supreme Court that effectively upheld a lower court ruling against President Obama’s policy of selectively enforcing immigration laws.
The Court split 4-4 in the case of United States, et al., petitioners v. Texas, et al. In a one-sentence opinion, the court ruled, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court” without explaining how the court was divided.
Arkansas had joined a coalition of 26 states that had sued the government over Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which would have protected millions of undocumented parents of legal Americans from deportation. Another of Obama’s blocked policies was an expansion of an earlier policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), that forestalled the deportation of illegal immigrants brought to America as children.
A Texas district court had issued an injunction against DAPA and against the expansion of DACA. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had upheld the ruling.
Obama said at the White House, “For more than two decades now our immigration system, everybody acknowledges, has been broken and the fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be.”
Obama said that those who would have been affected – those who have not committed a crime – will remain a low priority for enforcement.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said, “Today’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court maintains the ruling of the Fifth Circuit, which said the president’s decision to go around Congress and implement changes to immigration law through executive action goes beyond the scope of presidential power. This ruling helps restore the balance of power and maintains our system of checks and balances with this president and all future occupants of the White House. This is a strong signal from the courts: No one person is above the law and no president can rewrite a law to fit a policy agenda.”
Sen. Tom Cotton and Sen. John Boozman, along with 42 other Republican senators, filed an amicus brief in the case.
Boozman said in a statement, “This ruling by the Supreme Court affirms that President Obama’s executive actions on immigration were a gross overreach of power. This abuse of authority by the president was rightfully reigned in with this decision that prevents him from choosing not to enforce our immigration laws. It is the president’s responsibility to uphold the laws, not avoid them. The path to immigration reform is to work with Congress, not around us. It starts with securing our borders, as no immigration reform policies will be effective until we accomplish that goal. We must stop allowing individuals to enter the country illegally without recourse, and we must hold those who break the law accountable.”
Cotton said in a statement, “This decision is a win for the Constitution and for a common-sense immigration policy. It guarantees that President Obama will not be able to implement his brazenly unconstitutional attempt to unilaterally grant amnesty to illegal immigrants with the mere stroke of a pen. And it is yet another instance in which the judicial branch has rebuked the president for trampling on the separation of powers and disrespecting the limits the Constitution places on his office. As the Obama presidency ends, so must the president’s policy of amnesty and open borders. The next president and the next Congress must instead bolster the security of our borders and craft an immigration policy that grows our economy and strengthens our society.”
Arkansas’ 2nd District congressmen, Rep. French Hill, said, “In my view, the court’s most fundamental responsibility is protecting the separation of powers prescribed by the Constitution. The president’s maneuver to bypass Congress in order to create a class of over four million new residents is not exercising prosecutorial discretion. It’s legislating in direct violation of the Constitution. The court’s decision today to uphold the rule of law provides a reminder to an administration who often feels that it is above the Constitution, that, in fact, it is not.”
Fourth District Rep. Bruce Westerman said, “The Supreme Court made the right call today by upholding the lower court’s decision on President Obama’s executive action on immigration. His administration’s attempt to give legal status to those who broke the law was a clear overreach of his office. This should be a reminder to President Obama and future presidents that the power to make laws was given to Congress and the American people will not stand for a president who does not uphold in the principles of our Constitution.”