The U.S. Supreme Court has dealt the final blow to President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration. As you may remember, President Obama attempted to bypass Congress in November 2014 and grant de facto amnesty to as many as five million illegal immigrants. A number of states, including Alabama, challenged the executive amnesty plans in federal court on the grounds that they violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers. Although there are not currently 9 serving justices, an equally divided Supreme Court affirms the ruling of the court below. By upholding lower courts’ rulings against the Administration, the Supreme Court has effectively blocked the President’s orders from being implemented and affirmed that they were unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court’s decision represents an important victory for the separation of powers, a fundamental principle of our Constitution meant to preserve self-governance. The framers strategically divided governing authorities among the three branches and set up a system of checks and balances to ensure no one branch became too powerful. Article I of the Constitution gives Congress, not the President, authority to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.”
Our laws have legitimacy because they are passed by representatives elected by and accountable to the people. That legitimacy has been undermined by expansions of executive authority over the past few decades. I believe this decision sends a strong message to President Obama and to future presidents that constitutional order and the rule of law must be followed.
However, this issue isn’t going away. Our illegal immigration problem is very real. The President’s amnesty orders only exacerbated that problem by inviting even more illegal immigrants to cross the border and by poisoning any chance Congress could make progress toward meaningful solutions on this issue while he was in office. They were also unfair to legal immigrants who played by the rules and to the working Americans whose wages are undercut by reckless immigration policy.
Amnesty won’t solve our immigration problems. We have to secure the border and enact better polices that discourage illegal entry, punish lawbreakers and promote America’s economic interests. In the wake of this ruling, our work to strengthen the United States immigration laws should continue right away. Hopefully our next president will be more willing to work with Congress in that regard. Thanks to this Supreme Court ruling, they won’t be able to go around Congress and unilaterally enact their own policies. That’s important for the preservation of our constitutional republic, no matter who the next president is.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband, Riley and their two children.