Barletta Backs Rule of Law as SCOTUS Hears Obama Amnesty Case

Apr 18, 2016
Press Release
U.S. v. Texas Oral Arguments on President’s Unlawful Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants

“… he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed …”


- U.S. Constitution

Article II, Section 3


WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, today supported the rule of law as the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging President Obama’s granting of blanket amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.  The case of United States, et al. v. Texas, et al. was brought by 26 states and centers on the question of the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.  Barletta has been an outspoken critic of Obama’s amnesty policies and supported the filing of a brief in the case by the House of Representatives.

“Barack Obama was not elected king, he was elected president, with certain powers and specific limits on his authority,” Barletta said.  “He said it himself at least 22 times: He did not have the legal authority to do what he eventually did, which was to grant amnesty to people who have willfully broken our immigration laws to be present in this country.”

Issues in the case include the “Take Care Clause” in Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, which requires the president to faithfully execute the laws.  The Supreme Court took the unusual step in asking whether the president’s actions had violated the clause, inviting the House of Representatives to weigh in.  By raising this question, the Supreme Court has made U.S. v. Texas into a potentially important Article I versus Article II case that could determine future powers – or limits on those powers – of the executive and legislative branches of government. 

“The president has repeatedly ignored Congress and stretched executive authority beyond its breaking point, which is why we have turned to the courts to restore order,” Barletta said.  “The Constitution is very clear about the roles of the president and the Congress.  President Obama has clearly overstepped his role.”   

The plaintiffs in the case are 26 States, which sued to stop implementation of President Obama’s executive actions relating to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs.   On February 15, 2015, the district court held that the states were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims, and barred implementation of the DACA and DAPA programs until a final ruling on the merits.  On November 9, 2015, the Firth Circuit affirmed, by a vote of 2-1, the district court's decision and went further by saying that executive actions were contrary to the Immigration and Nationality Act.  On November 20, 2015, the Solicitor General filed with the Supreme Court a petition for a writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court agreed to take the case on January 19, 2016.  In granting “cert” the Court raised four questions (three presented by the Solicitor General, and one additional question - whether the president’s executive order violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution).

Barletta Led the Fight to Defund Amnesty in the House

Barletta fought to defund the president’s illegal executive amnesty plans through the passage of an appropriations bill that would have defunded the amnesty program for illegal immigrants, largely through an amendment Barletta co-authored, had the bill been signed into law.  The House approved the appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), along with the key amendment known as the Aderholt/Mulvaney/Barletta Amendment.  The House also adopted additional amendments Barletta supported, including one which stops the president’s DACA program, which has abused the practice of prosecutorial discretion on immigration enforcement. 

The Aderholt/Mulvaney/Barletta Amendment

The lead amendment to the DHS appropriations bill was the one authored by Rep. Barletta, Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-4), and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (SC-5).  It was the Aderholt/Mulvaney/Barletta amendment which would have specifically defunded President Obama’s executive amnesty. 

The Aderholt/Mulvaney/Barletta amendment addressed the Obama executive amnesty by:

  • Preventing any funds from any source from being used to carry out the executive actions the president announced on November 20, 2014.
  • Preventing any funds from any source from being used to carry out the so-called “Morton Memos,” which directed immigration officers to ignore broad categories of illegal immigrants.
  • Declaring that no funds may be used to carry out any policies that are substantially similar to the ones being defunded.
  • Declaring that the policies being defunded have no basis in federal law or the Constitution and therefore have no legal effect.
  • Preventing any funds from being used to provide federal benefits to illegal immigrants intended to be impacted by the president’s executive amnesty.

“We have immigration laws for two main reasons: to protect national security and to preserve American jobs.  The Obama Amnesty violates both of those principles,” Barletta said.  “There can be no question that rampant illegal immigration is a national security threat.  In addition, it’s hard enough to find a job these days for millions of Americans and legal residents.  The president has introduced millions of new applicants who will compete for jobs that are already scarce.  It is difficult to imagine how such a policy is beneficial to Americans.”