"It’s as if . . . the President is setting the policy and the Congress is executing it. That’s just upside down." - Justice Anthony Kennedy (April 19, 2016 - Supreme Court Argument)
Dear Justice Anthony Kennedy:
Respectfully, your reported statement, itself, needs to be righted.
Who put Whom on Whose head?
Actually, the President’s policy puts the system slightly more upright. Nothing is upside down. The policy does not require Congress to do anything . . . it simply implements a small fix to the actual mess Congress has ignored, making that mess a little bit more economical and easier to manage, as well as substantially safer and realistic for all our citizens. That is the President "doing his job" — not creating any law or permanent fix to the mess that continues to exist.
Reality: It is estimated that eleven million foreign nationals are residing in the United States. Congress has allocated enough money to deport only about 400,000 people annually. Of the eleven million, about 3.7 million are parents with U.S. citizen children, parents who are doing whatever is possible, not lawful, to financially support their children and give each his or her birth right to opportunities of a U.S. citizen.
Problem: The United States and its economy cannot function as a society of two classes of people, one living openly, working, paying taxes and insurance, and the other, required by fear of family separation, hiding evidence of its very existence. This creates a society where strong families are torn apart in order to deport a parent and where consequently, for lack of resources, criminals remain in the U.S. to potentially strike again.
No Resolution: Congress has failed to create law to mitigate the problems. Yet the President, through the Department of Homeland Security still has the responsibility to execute the law, including to deport undocumented foreign nationals within the legal structure in a rational way. Thus, the problems stated above are delegated to the Department.
Agency Function: An agency is tasked with creating regulations, rules and policy, to implement the law created by Congress. The U.S. populace is rightfully angry with government that does nothing or little to fix problems. Through the DACA and DAPA policy, the Department has adopted its internal procedures to enforce the law more rationally, executing the law that Congress has set, with policy that makes it work better, focused on reducing the danger and the costs of the dark economy that the undocumented inhabit.
Functional Response: The Department, put 3.7 million undocumented parents of US children at the rear of the 11 million deportation line so that each year the Department’s resources are used to, first, deport 400,000 criminals, terrorists and others. Granting those parents work authorization not only reduces downward pressure on wages and enables basic financial support to our youngest citizens, but it also is established law effected efficiently. Current law provides temporary work authorization to many of the persons awaiting status, or resolution of their immigration status. The DACA and DAPA policies extend this same temporary right to apply, subject to a showing of necessity, to those undocumented foreign nationals with US citizen children, a group we should all be sympathetic to, but not to those other undocumented who by reason of their lack of family ties, or actual criminal conduct, should be targeted by our limited enforcement resources.
Respectfully, Justice Kennedy, nothing is upside down. The system is working, poorly perhaps, but as intended when one branch abdicates its responsibility to fix an unworkable situation. The government had to do something, the President has acted by necessity, the consequence of Congressional inaction. His limited efforts to stabilize our society should be allow to proceed.
Steffanie J. Lewis