The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday has to do with the separation of powers between the three branches of the federal government. The Legislative Branch – the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives - is tasked with the responsibility to make the laws of the land. The Executive Branch is tasked with the responsibility to enforce the laws, and the Judicial Branch is tasked with the responsibility to interpret the laws. When each of the three branches fulfill their duties – and do not usurp the responsibilities of the other branches – the government runs as it should. When they do not, their rogue actions cause other problems.
A serious problem in the United States today was caused because Barack Obama decided to usurp the responsibility to make the laws. With a stroke of his pen he established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This program made it possible for undocumented immigrants who brought to the United States illegally by their parent or other adult to remain in the United States.
Eight states – Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Kansas – along with two governors – Mississippi and Maine – took the problem to the Judicial Branch. The plaintiffs asked the Court to declare the DACA program to be illegal and to force the federal government to end it. President Trump tried to end the program a year ago but was forced to keep it open by a different court. The administration hoped that this case would shut the program down, but the judge in this case made a surprise decision.
District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas decided against a ruling to shut down the program “even though he believes the program is probably illegal, according to CNN.” One would think that a judge would shut down an illegal program, but Judge Hanen thinks that abruptly ending DACA would cause greater harm to the states. He wrote the following in his decision.
Here, the egg has been scrambled. To try to put it back in the shell with only a preliminary injunction record and perhaps at great risk to many, does not make sense nor serve the best interests of this country.
In other words, the program should have been stopped before it began. The fact that the program has been in place for six years makes it a different story. The decision does not necessarily mean that DACA is legal. It simply means that the judge believes that Congress has the responsibility to create a program to protect the people called Dreamers, if they so choose.
DACA is a popular program and one that Congress should consider saving. [However], this court will not succumb to the temptation to set aside legal principles and to substitute its judgment in lieu of legislative action. If the nation truly wants to have a DACA program, it is up to Congress to say so.
In other words, Hanen refuses to usurp the responsibility of Congress. Obama did the wrong thing when he created DACA with an executive order. He should have worked with Congress to create a law that would take care of the problem of children brought to the United States illegally. Now the problem has grown bigger, causing greater harm if the law is simply declared illegal. Congress needs to get its act together and solve the problem once and for all. If Congress does not act, the only recourse for the plaintiffs – and President Trump – is for the case to go all the way to the US Supreme Court where conservative justices may rule DACA illegal and unconstitutional.