A federal district court issued a preliminary injunction barring any federal agency from enforcing President Obama’s executive action on immigration. The White House previously issued orders that would prohibit the deportation of up to five million illegal aliens and permit the issuance of work permits to that same group. 

The Attorneys General for 26 states thereafter sued the U.S. Government, asserting that the executive action imposed increased costs in law enforcement, health care, and education on the states without providing federal funds to cover those costs. 

The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over immigration policy. Ordinarily, however, it acts in this area through legislation. In this case, the President acted unilaterally, and Federal District Court Judge Andrew Hanen concluded that the states would suffer “irreparable harm” if the executive actions were allowed to proceed. 

“The genie would be impossible to put back in the bottle,” he wrote in a 100-page opinion, in which he further found that legalizing the status of millions of people would be a “virtually irreversible” action.  

The 26 state plaintiffs argued that the orders, by changing the legal status of the people at issue, required them to immediately extend educational, health, and law enforcement services totaling billions of dollars in aggregate. 

As for the costs that open immigration imposes on the public at large, Harvard Economics Professor George Borjas studied the effect on working class wages of the influx of upwards of ten million illegal workers, and concluded that legal working class workers were losing over $350 billion per year as a result of depressed wage levels caused by a flooded labor market. This comes to two to three dollars an hour for the average worker, or approximately $5,000 lost by the average legal worker per year. And of course, this loss is being borne by the working class, the group of Americans least able to bear it. 

That $350 billion, of course, stays on the books of the major corporations that don’t need to pay it in wages. It is therefore not much of a surprise that larger corporations tend to support open immigration or, as they might see it, cheap labor. 

Judge Hanan’s ruling is being appealed to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal. It is possible that the Fifth Circuit will not even reach the merits of the case, if it decides that the states lacked “standing” to bring the action. The courts are reluctant to involve themselves in disputes between the executive and the legislative branches, and they may consider Congress the proper party to restrain the executive on this issue.

And indeed, Congress is just now wrestling with how to respond to the White House’s executive action. The House of Representative passed a Department of Homeland Security budget that fully funds DHS but that prohibits DHS from enforcing the executive actions.  

The bill has passed to the Senate, where it requires 60 votes for debate to proceed. The democrats are voting in a block against permitting consideration of the bill, betting that, with the media’s aid, the public will blame the republicans for the shutdown of DHS that will occur if the bill is not passed.

The alternative explanation, that President Obama and the democrats are willing to shut down DHS unless Congress funds an unconstitutional executive action that will further depress the wages of America’s working class, seems more accurate.



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