Federal Court Throws Wrench into Obama Immigration Plan
Feb 26, 2015
But the administration has signaled it will not give up the fight, likely making immigration a central issue in the 2016 election.
By Anthony P. Raimondo, attorney
The Obama administration’s plan to use executive authority and prosecutorial discretion to issue temporary work authorization to millions of immigrants was disrupted by a federal court order in Texas blocking the White House initiative.
In response, the administration has filed a request to the court to lift its injunction so that the administration can proceed with its effort at limited immigration reform offering three years of relief to many undocumented immigrants.
The injunction was obtained by a group of 26 states, based upon the anticipated impact of the administration’s immigration plan on the state. The Obama administration has taken the position that the states cannot interfere in federal enforcement of immigration law because federal authority pre-empts state interests in this area of law. The administration’s position is consistent with the Supreme Court’s prior ruling striking down an Arizona state law that attempted to involve the state in border enforcement.
In the initial ruling, the Texas federal court ruled that Obama had overstepped his executive authority by taking action on immigration without executive approval. The President has argued that the states have no standing to challenge executive discretion in the enforcement of immigration law, an area of exclusive federal authority.
The administration asked the federal court to stay its order while the government appeals the ruling to a higher court. A judge hostile to the administration’s effort appears unlikely to stay the ruling pending an appeal. Leaving the ruling in place preserves the status quo of immigration law while a higher court decides the issue, but lifting the stay will allow the administration to proceed with its plan to process temporary visas and work authorization documents. The judge is likely to understand that once such documents are issued, it will be virtually impossible to take them back.
Given how unlikely it is that the court will lift its order, the administration’s filing appears to be a political move signaling to immigration advocates that it will not give up the fight. Such a step appears to be a prelude to making immigration a central issue in the 2016 election.
The Obama administration only has two years left in office, and a long court battle could render its immigration reform efforts moot. But immigration is likely to remain a hotly contested political issue over the next few years, with nothing but uncertainty for employers and employees looking for a stable labor market.
Until reform is implemented by Congress, employers must be sure to comply with immigration law through strict compliance with I-9 procedures.
The goal of this article is to provide employers with current labor and employment law information. The contents should not be interpreted or construed as legal advice or opinion. For individual responses to questions or concerns regarding any given situation, the reader should consult with Anthony Raimondo at Raimondo & Associates in Fresno, at (559) 432-3000.