Appeals Judges ‘Skeptical,’ ‘Divided’ On Executive Amnesty

Donatila Diego, originally from Guatemala, (L) and Juana de Leon, originally from Guatemala, stand with others as they show their support for the Obama administration's immigration reform plan on July 9, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. The organizers held the protest the night before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in …
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The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judges considering President Obama’s executive amnesty appeared “divided” over the administration’s argument to grant work permits and legal status to millions of illegal immigrants during a court hearing, according to Reuters.

The news service reports that two of the judges on the three-judge panel “expressed skepticism” of the government’s arguments in favor of executive amnesty. Both Republican appointees, Judges Jerry Smith and Jennifer Walker Elrod appeared on the panel that rejected an earlier Obama administration request to allow the executive amnesty program to move forward.

Noting that a work authorization “is a prelude” to obtaining other benefits, Elrod suggested to Obama administration lawyer Benjamin Mizer that insisting the program is only about work permits is “sort of disingenuous.”

Smith also pressed the issue. “Here you have this granting (of legal status) to an entire classification that puts them one step ahead for lots of benefits,” he said.

The Democrat appointee on the panel, meanwhile, pressed the 26 states’ argument against executive amnesty.

Judge Carolyn Dineen King, who was not part of the earlier proceeding, appeared more sympathetic to the administration. Several times she posed pointed questions to Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller about why Texas opposes the action so vehemently.

The Fifth Circuit is considering the Obama administration appeal of a district judge’s ruling halting the executive amnesty programs from moving forward — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).

Texas is leading the 26-state coalition against the executive amnesty programs arguing that Obama overstepped his constitutional authority and that the states will be on the hook for costs associated with mass legalization.

Mizer told the court that Texas had incorrectly focused on the granting of driver’s licenses and benefits such as Social Security and the earned income tax credit to illegal aliens.

“It’s remarkable that the entire policy is being enjoined on the mere policy of driver’s licenses,” Mizer said.

For Texas, Keller argued that a federal policy should not be able to override state laws that reserve certain benefits only to those who are lawfully present.

Following court arguments Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton highlighted the sweeping repercussions of executive amnesty and stressed that the states’ lawsuit is “about the rule of law.”

“President Obama’s executive amnesty program would prompt some of the most massive changes to national immigration law in history, all without any input from Congress or the American people. Federal lawyers today even acknowledged several times that this action constitutes a ‘significant policy enactment,’” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.