Bob Goodlatte: Standing strong for the Constitution

goodlattefourinA decision made by a U.S. District Court in Texas just a few days ago has had a major impact on President Obama’s recent executive actions to unilaterally change our immigration laws. The court’s injunction temporarily halts the President’s deferred action program for unlawful immigrants, essentially ruling that he overstepped his powers in trying to grant legal status and “benefits and privileges” to millions of illegal immigrants. In the ruling, Judge Andrew Hanen writes that these actions represent “a massive change in immigration practice” and will have a significant effect on “the nation’s entire immigration scheme and the states who must bear the lion’s share of its consequences.”

President Obama’s executive overreach on immigration poses a clear and present danger to our Constitution. I am pleased that these actions have been temporarily halted. This will allow a lawsuit filed by 26 states that challenges this executive overreach on immigration to move forward.  In December, I signed an amicus brief in support of this lawsuit, which was submitted to the federal court by the American Center for Law and Justice.

This ruling out of Texas further underscores the importance and urgency of Congress defunding this executive overreach. The House of Representatives has already passed legislation to defund President Obama’s unconstitutional actions, yet still fund the Department of Homeland Security for Fiscal Year 2015.  Now that the legality of the President’s executive decrees has been questioned by both the legislative and judicial branches, the Senate should bring this legislation up for a vote. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats – many of whom have publicly stated that President Obama overstepped his authority – have obstructed even debating this bill. In response to this stonewalling, I authored a letter, signed by 169 other House Republicans, to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid demanding that he allow debate on this important bill.

By overstepping his authority and rewriting our immigration laws on his own, President Obama is threatening to undo our system of checks and balances. Even though these immigration actions are temporarily delayed, Congress must still act in a bipartisan manner to protect the separation of powers clearly defined in our Constitution. This is critical to protecting individual liberty for generations to come regardless of which political party is in the White House.

The Obama Administration has announced that they will comply with the Texas court’s ruling for the time being, halting plans to accept applications for the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legalization program, which was originally slated to begin on February 18. However, the Administration has also announced their plans to file an appeal of the decision.  I will closely monitor this appeal as it makes its way through the judicial system. It is my hope that the Constitution will come out on the winning side.

Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth District in Congress.

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