- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The White House vowed Tuesday to appeal to the Supreme Court this week’s court ruling blocking President Obama’s deportation amnesty, and Hispanic voters said they’ll make Republicans pay at the polls for supporting the lawsuit in which a three-judge panel ruled President Obama broke immigration law in granting tentative status to illegal immigrants.

Republicans hailed the ruling as a necessary check on Mr. Obama’s efforts to expand his powers, saying judges have once again stepped in to restrain a White House run amok, and said they hoped it would restrain the president from taking more executive actions.

But the White House was defiant, insisting it will prevail at the high court. Meanwhile, Democratic presidential hopefuls said they’ll take the issue to Hispanic voters, who they said will make Republicans pay for supporting the lawsuit. Hispanic advocates said Democrats will find a very receptive audience within their ranks.

SEE ALSO: Judges use Obama’s own words to halt deportation amnesty

Monday’s decision, by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, also came early enough in the year that the administration can likely file an appeal with the Supreme Court in time to have the case heard during this term, and to have the justices rule by June.

If they side with Mr. Obama, that could give him more than half a year to begin ramping up the amnesty before a new president takes office and decides whether to keep it in place or revoke it.

“The interest that we have is in trying to do the right thing for the country, to do the right thing by these families, to do the right thing by our economy and to do the right thing by public safety and national security,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in defending Mr. Obama’s actions.

Known officially as Deferred Action for Parental Arrivals, or DAPA, Mr. Obama’s plan was intended to grant up to 5 million illegal immigrants a proactive three-year stay of deportation and to give them work permits, allowing them to come out of the shadows and join American society — though they were still considered to be in the country illegally.

To qualify, illegal immigrants had to be parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident children.

The president characterized his plan as a use of prosecutorial discretion, reasoning that he was never going to deport them anyway, so they should be granted some more firm status.

The 2-1 ruling firmly rejected Mr. Obama’s justification, saying he has a duty to carry out the laws as written. The majority said he not only broke a procedural law by failing to put the policy out for public comment, but he also broke the Immigration and Nationality Act by trying to waive penalties for a whole class of people.

In an opinion freighted with meaning for the separation of powers battles, Judge Jerry E. Smith, writing for himself and Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, said Mr. Obama hurt his own case when he claimed last year that he acted to rewrite the law because Congress wouldn’t pass the bill he wanted.

“I just took an action to change the law,” the president told hecklers at a Chicago speech just days after he announced his policies last Nov. 20.

Judge Smith said administration lawyers weren’t able to explain that away despite being given multiple chances at oral argument this summer.

Mr. Earnest, however, said the court was placing too much importance on the president’s impromptu remark, and he pointed to the dissent in Monday’s ruling, in which Judge Carolyn Dineen King dismissed Mr. Obama’s claim that he changed the law, saying presidents often use imprecise language when talking about laws.

“The president certainly didn’t intend for that to be a carefully considered legal argument. He was trying to communicate in words that he hoped the protester would understand,” Mr. Earnest said.

The spokesman said the president’s comment was “entirely consistent with both the executive action he undertook, but also consistent with the precedent that he used to justify that action.”

The issue is now firmly part of the presidential campaign, with a coalition of immigrant rights groups announcing they will host dinners for presidential candidates and members of Congress so they can sit down to eat with families that include illegal immigrants.

“We invite you to break bread with these families and see for yourself how they are just like other American families,” the groups said in their invitation to candidates.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Bernard Sanders, two of the candidates for the Democrats’ presidential nomination, insisted the appeals court got the ruling wrong and predicted the Supreme Court would change it.

“President Obama believes that the parents of children who are citizens or legal permanent residents should be able to stay with their children, not be forced out of the country. I look forward to the Supreme Court acknowledging the president’s position,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement.

Democrats also chided the appeals court for taking months to issue Monday’s ruling. The court heard oral arguments over the summer, and the case was supposed to be on an expedited schedule.

“The Fifth Circuit delayed its 2-1 decision as long as possible to deny the Supreme Court time to undo it. In sports that’s called running out the clock — in this case, it’s prolonging the agony of countless families suffering in our broken immigration system,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, Arizona Democrat.

Even the dissenting judge accused her colleagues of slow-walking the case.

But legal analysts said it did come in time for an appeal to be filed and heard during the current Supreme Court term, which runs through June — though the justices do still have to want to take the case.

Dave Boyer contributed to this article.

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