Earlier this month, a federal district judge out of Brownsville, Texas, Andrew Hanen, issued a temporary injunction against the implementation of the Obama administration’s executive actions on prosecutorial discretion in immigration, known as “DAPA” and “Expanded DACA.” The ruling is estimated to block a presidential order that would have eventually allowed more than 4 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and work without fear of deportation.
There is nothing surprising in the fact of the injunction. What is surprising, given this judge, is the narrowness of the ruling. His ruling is based on procedure, finding flaws under the Administrative Procedure Act, not on constitutional grounds; he did not find the actions unconstitutional. It is almost as if he was desperate for a way to block these initiatives and grasped any straw he could.
Judge Hanen’s prior statements show that he was predisposed against favorable exercises of prosecutorial discretion in the immigration context. In fact, it is no secret why the lawsuit filed by Louisiana’s attorney general and those of 25 other states was filed in the district where Judge Hanen sits.
What Judge Hanen and the conservative states that are trying to block these programs are forgetting is that the current state of immigration affairs is a huge and long-running problem. With an estimate of more than 11 million undocumented people who are living, working and raising families in the United States, it is impossible to deport all of them; there simply are not the resources for it. This program allows those nonfelons and those with little to no criminal record to come out of the shadows and continue to raise their families and work to support them.
Judge Hanen’s ruling does nothing to solve a problem, but only complicates and delays the solution of an already long-term one.
The federal government has already announced that it will appeal to the 5th Circuit. I fully expect that the government will ultimately prevail and these programs will be fully implemented.
What both the president and conservatives can agree on is that immigration needs to be addressed. They also agree that the ultimate solution should come from congressional action. The Republicans control the Congress yet they seem much more concerned with delay tactics and complications rather than a solution.
Paul “Woody” Scott