MALDEF: 'Texas Has No Standing' to Challenge Obama's Immigration Policies

By Susan Jones | April 18, 2016 | 11:35am EDT

( - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday was hearing oral arguments in United States v. Texas, a case challenging President Obama's DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) program, which grants temporary legal status and various taxpayer-funded benefits to the illegal alien parents of U.S.-born children.

"I am looking forward to speaking on behalf of those who deserve the temporary relief that was announced by President Obama a little over a year ago," Thomas Saenz, the president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), told CSPAN on Monday morning.

Saenz was presenting the arguments of three "Jane Does," mothers of American citizen children who live in Texas and want to stay there.

"Their main arguments are that Texas has no standing, that is to say, no rights to be in court to challenge the president's guidance from Nov. 2014," Saenz said.

Texas and 26 other states say Obama's executive actions place financial burdens on taxpayers, because under DAPA, millions of illegal aliens will be allowed to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation. They also will be eligible for work permits, Medicare and Social Security benefits, earned income tax credits, unemployment insurance and driver's licenses.

The Texas case hinges on driver's licenses:

Obama's executive actions "would mean hundreds of thousands of additional unauthorized aliens would become eligible for driver’s licenses, and that would impose significant costs on the state of Texas," Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller told The Texas Tribune in February.

"Another aspect for which we have standing on are costs from education and health care and law enforcement that are caused by additional unauthorized aliens being in the country." Keller said Obama's immigration guidance would force Texas to spend "tens of millions of dollars."

But Saenz will argue that Texas sustained no "clear and individual injury" from Obama's DAPA program:

According to Saenz, the Texas Legislature and governor "long ago made a decision to subsidize driver's licenses" because they decided that it was better to have people driving with licenses than without them.

"So they set the cost of a license to encourage people to receive them. That's their judgement. It should be respected, even by the State of Texas today, and therefore there's no harm or injury from the (DAPA) guidance in particular. It's instead the result of their own legislative process."

Saenz said he believes the justices will be particularly interested in the question of standing.

If the court decides that Texas and the other states do have the standing to challenge Obama's executive actions, the question then becomes, did President Obama's executive actions violate his constitutional duty to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

If the court finds that Texas and the other states have no standing, Obama will be free to proceed with his immigration program. If the justices hand down a 4-4 ruling in June, the preliminary injunction against Obama's DAPA program will remain in place.

The Justices also could affirm that President Obama's executive actions fall within his executive authority,

"My strong hope and indeed my belief is that the law supports five justices, at least, deciding that this case should not go forward and certainly the preliminary injunction should be lifted and that the president should have the right and ability to implement the guidance that he announced in 2014," Saenz said.

And if the preliminary injunction stays in place?

"Well I think then the election in November may be even more critical than folks have already identified it as being. Because certainly the next president of the United States, whoever that may be, will have significant authority to decide what are the enforcement priorities, what are the right ways to deploy the resources of the United States with respect to immigration.

"I suspect that whoever that president is, he or she will decide, given limited resources, to identify low-priority folks, like our clients, who are parents of United States citizens -- who have been here for a significant period of time, at least since 2010 -- and have no criminal conduct to disqualify them; and if that's the case, we would still look for some form of relief, temporary relief, in deferred action or otherwise."

The Supreme Court gave Saenz ten minutes to speak for the three Jane Does.

Likewise, the justices gave the Republican-led House of Representatives 15 minutes to make the case that President Obama has usurped Congress's authority to write laws, including immigration law.

"Presidents may disagree with the laws, but they are not free to ignore those laws and have unelected bureaucrats write new ones," House Speaker Paul Ryan said Monday in a statement. "This is a threat to self-government itself. We have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution, and today at the Supreme Court, we will do just that.”

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