House Republicans to Block Executive Action

On November 20, 2014, House Republican Ted Yoho of Florida’s 3rd District sponsored H.R. 5759 Executive Amnesty Prevention Act of 2014. The Bill states that no provision of the Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act, or other federal law shall authorize the President to exempt categories of persons unlawfully present in the United States from removal under the immigration laws. The crux of the argument lies in the separation of powers principle of the U.S. Constitution, which divides the rights and responsibilities of each branch of the U.S. government – Executive, Legislative & Judiciary. Essentially, the House argues that the Congress is solely responsible for making law and the President is solely responsible for enforcing law. Accordingly, the President has overstepped the authority of the Executive office by creating law, in the opinion of the House of Representatives.

Historically, however, each U.S. President since 1956 has granted temporary immigration relief in the form of executive action. The right of the executive to provide immigration relief lies in the authority to grant “prosecutorial discretion,” according to more than 100 leading scholars and professors of law. The concept of prosecutorial discretion is “a common, long-accepted legal practice” in law enforcement. Consistent with this principle, the President and the Departments of the Executive Branch (Department of Homeland Security, Customs & Border Protection, Citizenship & Immigration Services, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, etc.) have broad authority to provide a remedy, such as a stay of removal, or to refrain from enforcing law, such as cancelling a Notice to Appear.

Nevertheless, the Bill passed the House of Representatives on December 5, 2014, largely along party lines. If signed in to law, this Bill would have profound effect on business immigration because it would strip the President of his authority to make the changes proposed to the legal immigration system. Next the Bill will be considered by the U.S. Senate. In truth, however, the Executive Amnesty Prevention Act has zero chance of becoming law. To become law, President Obama would have to sign the Bill. So in essence, all the House has managed to do by proposing this Bill is to waste time and taxpayer dollars.


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