SALT LAKE CITY — While President Barack Obama’s executive order regarding immigration has won praise from supporters, it has also drawn ire form state officials and members of Congress for an action they claim oversteps the bounds of executive authority. On Thursday Rep. Chris Stewart and others in the U.S. House passed a bill seeking to nullify the president’s order completely; the day prior, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes signed onto a multistate lawsuit challenging the executive order.
The Office of Rep. Chris Stewart and the Utah Attorney General’s Office released the following statements:
Stewart votes to nullify the president’s recent immigration executive action
Stewart voted in favor of the Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act of 2014, which passed the House Thursday. This bill nullifies the president’s recent immigration executive action and reaffirms the constitutional principles that only Congress has the power to write immigration laws and that the President’s role is to enforce existing laws.
“This is an important bill that reaffirms the roles of the branches of government as envisioned by our founding fathers,” Stewart said. “The Constitution is clear — it’s Congress’ responsibility to write the law and the president’s job is to simply enforce those laws. We must prevent President Obama, and future presidents, from abusing their authority through immigration executive orders. This bill does just that. Now is the time for the Senate to act and I urge my senate colleagues to take up this important piece of legislation.”
Specifically, this bill:
- Prevents President Obama or any future president from exempting or deferring the removal of categories of unlawful aliens except to the extent that the president is relying on his constitutional powers over foreign affairs or utilizing exceptions provided for in the bill for exceptional humanitarian and law enforcement circumstances
- Prevents President Obama or any future president from considering such aliens to be lawfully present in the United States (and thus ineligible for the rights and privileges available to lawfully present aliens)
- Prevents President Obama or any future president from granting work authorization to such aliens
- Takes effect as if enacted on Nov. 20, 2014, thus nullifying the president’s recent executive action
Full text of the bill can be found here.
On Wednesday, Reyes signed onto a multistate lawsuit filed in Texas challenging Obama’s unilateral executive action regarding deportation and illegal immigration. The lawsuit is based on a constitutional challenge to the President bypassing Congress and exceeding his executive authority. Secondarily, to the extent he had any rule making authority, the lawsuit addresses how he failed to comply with statutory requirements.
Attorney General Sean Reyes stated:
This lawsuit is not about immigration policy. Whether you agree or disagree with some, all or none of the President’s proposal is not the point. The process is what is being challenged. The process is not legal. Regardless of how you feel about the policy, it does not justify implementation in an unconstitutional manner.
We need solutions from Congress. The President is not the only one frustrated by Congress’s impasse on this issue. But, when states like Utah attempted to address the issue through legislation, they did so with the belief that it was through a proper exercise of sovereign police and other powers and an understanding that the courts would check that power if not.
It was President Obama, through the Justice Department, who argued states were preempted from passing laws related to immigration because Congress had exclusive jurisdiction for enactment of such laws. Ironically, the President has now done the exact thing he claimed states were not permitted to do. As with the states, the President’s attempt at lawmaking should be reviewed by the courts.
While people of goodwill can debate the merits of his policy, even the President has acknowledged that he is not above the law and that his powers are limited by Congress’s exclusive authority in this area.
The President, regardless of political party, must respect the rule of law and a balance of powers. At the same time, Congress has not only the legal authority but also the responsibility to take up matters such as these no matter how difficult they may be.
- Letter to the Editor: Obama’s immigration order is legalized slavery
- On the EDge: Time for conservatives to get a grip over immigration
- Utah elected officials respond to Obama’s executive action on immigration
- Congress urges Obama not to take executive action on Immigration Reform; Utah leaders hold roundtable
- Opinion: Stop illegal immigration
- Perspectives: Immigration woes are complicated by politics