Counterpoint: Obama's executive action hurts American workers

By Jan Ting on April 19, 2015

Chicago Sun Times, April 19, 2015

In 2002, in the case of Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. NLRB, the Supreme Court found "combatting the employment of illegal aliens in the United States central to the policy of immigration law."

In overturning the decision of an executive branch agency to provide benefits to illegal aliens, the high court said that allowing such benefits would "unduly trench upon explicit statutory prohibitions critical to federal immigration policy" and "would encourage the successful evasion of apprehension by immigration authorities, condone prior violations of the immigration laws, and encourage future violations."

But that is what President Obama is doing by ordering executive branch agencies to issue work authorization to 5 million illegal aliens.

The latest official jobs report shows 8.6 million Americans unemployed and looking for work, 6.7 million involuntary part-time workers counted as employed but who can't find full-time work and 2.1 million marginally attached to the labor force and not looking for work (many discouraged by long unemployment).

Lack of jobs with good wages is at the root of most of America's social problems. Jobs have been outsourced and lost to automation. Does anyone think the technology and globalization revolutions have ended? But business leaders want more immigration to hold down labor costs and keep profits and the stock market rising.

It is Congress' job to balance the interests of business and labor, to set limits on immigration that allow the economy to innovate and expand, while also allowing American workers to share in the prosperity of a growing economy.

Congress has enacted immigration limitations that, in its judgment, strike the right balance, and it can modify those limitations at any time. Because President Obama has failed to get lawmakers to enact modifications he wants, he feels justified to unilaterally promulgate new immigration rules.

The courts should not allow it. In 1952, the Supreme Court ruled that President Truman lacked authority to seize steel mills even in wartime in the absence of authority in the Constitution or conferred by Congress.

As Justice Robert Jackson famously explained, "When the president acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress, his authority is at its maximum," but "when the president takes measures incompatible with the expressed or implied will of Congress, his power is at its lowest ebb."