New Article: “The Constitutionality of DAPA Part II: Faithfully Executing the Law”

January 14th, 2015

I have now posted the second part in my series on the Constitutionality of Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. Part I considered whether Congress has acquiesced to the scope of deferred action in DAPA–it has not. Part II addresses whether the President has complied with his duty under the “Take Clare” clause. He has not. Here is the abstract:

Article II imposes a duty on the President unlike any other in the Constitution: he “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” More precisely, it imposes four distinct but interconnected duties. First, the imperative “shall” commands the president to execute the laws. Second, in doing so the President must act with “care.” Third, the object of that duty is “the Laws” enacted by Congress. Fourth, in executing the laws with care, the President must act in good “faith.” A careful examination of the four elements of the “Take Care” clause provides a comprehensive framework to determine whether the Executive has complied with his constitutional duty. This article assesses the constitutionality of President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Parental Accountability” (DAPA) on immigration through this lens of the “Take Care” clause.

First, DAPA is an extremely “broad policy” that was “consciously and expressly adopted” not as a means to enforce the laws of Congress, but to exempt nearly 40% of undocumented aliens in the United States-even those who were not previously subject to any previous enforcement action-from the threat of removal, and to provide them with work authorization. Second, DAPA was implemented without “care” for the immigration laws as it displaced officer discretion, both procedurally and substantively, with the Secretary’s blanket policy to turn meaningful review into a “rubber stamp.”

Third, DAPA finds refuge in none of the three tiers identified in Justice Jackson’s opinion Youngstown. Congress has and continues to oppose the scope of this executive action. Further, DAPA is not consonant with long-standing congressional policy towards deferred action. Previous uses were typically ancillary to statutory grants of lawful status or responsive to extraordinary equities on a very limited scale. In this bottom rung of authority, presidential power is at its “lowest ebb,” unentitled to a presumption of constitutionality. Fourth DAPA was not a good faith mistake of law, but a bad faith deliberate deviation. Implementing executive action to achieve several of the key statutory goals of laws Congress voted against reflects a deliberate attempt to circumnavigate around an uncooperative legislature. Exacerbating this conclusion is the fact that prior to the defeats of DACA and DAPA, the “sole organ” of the Executive Branch consistently stated that he lacked the power to defer the deportations of millions by himself.

This pattern of behavior amounts to a deliberate effort to act not in good faith, but in an effort to undermine the Laws of Congress. The duty under Article II has been violated.

I will have a lot more to say about this topic later. For now, I’ll make clear that a lot of the conventional wisdom of this case has been based on a superficial understanding of immigration law and prosecutorial discretion.