Observing the Swamp during the last few weeks, one trend is clear: federal courts are all-powerful, and even though the judges are appointed, not elected, they have the final say in legislative issues. Nevertheless, lower court judges don’t have the right to steal American sovereignty or usurp presidential powers including those the Executive Branch has over immigration.
Two recent examples: in Sessions v. Dimaya, the Supreme Court struck down a congressional statute that mandates criminal alien deportation. Dimaya is a twice-convicted foreign national and, therefore, deportable. Then, Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge John D. Bates wrote that the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the deferred action for childhood arrivals program, DACA, “was unlawful and must be set aside.” But DACA isn’t a law; President Obama created the program through an executive memo.
Now, America’s attention turns to the Supreme Court hearing on Trump v. Hawaii, the third version of the president’s refugee resettlement efforts to improve vetting and tighten domestic security. But in Trump v. Hawaii, the president’s campaign rhetoric is on trial, and not the law, which is clear. Hawaii’s U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson blocked the travel ban’s second version when he wrote that it was unconstitutional and discriminatory.
The 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act gives the chief executive broad immigration powers: “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
The Supreme Court’s decision will be announced in June. In the meantime, intense scrutiny of U.S. refugee policy is overdue. A former refugee coordinator who served in the Middle East, Russia, Africa and Cuba provides a good starting point. In her April 24 op-ed, retired 25-year State Department veteran Mary Doetsch called for the refugee program’s “complete overhaul.” Doetsch based her conclusion on the “alarming” levels of “pervasive fraud.” Doetsch witnessed widespread exploitation, abuse, identity fraud and marriage scams that dated back to 1990s Cuba and the early 2000s in Somalia.
Moreover, Doetsch noted, resettlement has, over generations, shifted from privately funded charities to a taxpayer-subsidized big business where executives earn from $260,000 to $700,000 annually. More refugees means higher income for the administrators. Last year, a Government Accountability Office report found the State Department and its partner, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has a shortage of anti-fraud procedures in place. For its part, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that refugee fraud is “easy to commit, but not easy to investigate.”
From the refugees’ perspective, the end game is worth whatever measures they take. Once entry to the U.S. is granted, a refugee may include his spouse, minor children, and after two years can petition his extended family to join him from abroad. He’ll immediately receive lifetime work authorization, and after one year can file for permanent residency status that will lead to citizenship. These benefits are appropriate for deserving humanitarian cases, not for those who committed fraud.
The U.S. has successfully resettled more than three million worldwide refugees. But continuing a poorly administered refugee program like the current one undermines support among Americans for the future resettlement of deserving persons.
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst. Contact him at email@example.com.