Editorial: Presidents and courts should not overturn laws

The Supreme Court in June agreed to decide whether the Trump administration lawfully canceled a program created by executive fiat by President Obama in 2012 that protected immigrants brought into the country illegally as children — popularly dubbed Dreamers — from deportation and be provided work permits.

Prior to that, such persons were subject to deportation by law.

The program is called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and is the subject of a case titled Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of University of California, et. al. This past week Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford filed a friend of the court brief in the case on behalf of Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin and the governors of Kansas and Montana.

“DACA recipients are members of the Nevada family, and we take care of our family,” Ford is quoted as saying in a press release announcing the filing. “By ending DACA, the Trump Administration turned its back on hundreds of thousands of young people who want nothing more than to continue living and working in the country they call home. Dreamers make America, and Nevada, great. I will continue to fight for them and for our Nevada family.”

The press release also quotes Gov. Steve Sisolak as saying, “Nevada’s 12,000 DACA recipients are hard-working members of our communities who contribute to our state every day. As Governor, I’m proud that Nevada is fighting back to defend our DREAMers against any attempts to undermine their protected status.”

In 2017 Trump announced his decision to cancel DACA, but several lower courts have blocked the move, saying the decision was arbitrary and capricious, because the administration failed to offer a sound rationale for changing course. Currently, the administration isn’t accepting new DACA applications, but continues to process renewals from Dreamers already in the program.

The attorney general’s court brief makes several compassionate arguments for why DACA should remain in force.

The brief notes that there are currently more than 669,000 DACA recipients in the United States who are able to work or attend school without fear of deportation. In Nevada, DACA recipients accounted for an estimated $261.8 million in spending power in 2015 and paid an estimated $19.9 million in state and local taxes, the brief states.

It goes on to point out that nationwide 73 percent of DACA grantees live with an American citizen spouse, child or sibling. “In Nevada, 27,600 individuals live in mixed-status households with an estimated 4,600 United States-born children of DACA recipients,” the brief relates. “Losing DACA status threatens to throw families into financial chaos, because many depend on the incomes and health insurance of the DACA recipients in their families. It also threatens to tear families apart, as native-born children of DACA recipients could be separated from their parents if removal proceedings are instituted against them.”

It also notes that residents who live in fear of deportation are less likely to report crimes or to seek proper medical care.

All true enough, but under our Constitution Congress writes laws, not the president or the courts. The Trump administration has expressed sympathy for the Dreamers, but four different bills to address immigration and the border wall failed this past year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Rather than press litigation the governor and the attorney general should demand our congressional delegation get off the impeachment bandwagon and pass immigration reform legislation the proper way — or else uphold the law as written by Congress.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.