A government is an institution with many responsibilities; the priority being to establish justice. Efforts have been made to create the best version of government possible, but achieving a perfect government is not plausible. Like James Madison once said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary”, in other words, if people were faultless, there would be no reason for regulations. Since we do not live in a perfect world, democracy and separation of powers are necessary for the government to function at its best. Through the separation of powers, three branches of the federal government were created. Those three branches of government are the legislative branch (Congress, the House of Representatives, and the Senate), the executive branch (the President, Vice President, Cabinet, and most federal agencies), and the judicial branch (the Supreme Court and other courts). The purpose of these three branches is to make sure no group or individual will have too much power.
The relationship between the president and Congress has been described as a ‘central link’ in American politics. Their relationship is essential to American politics, and the Constitution requires both the President and Congress to work productively together for the benefit of America. Congress has the power to decide whether potential presidential authorizations pass or not. When Congress works in conjunction with the President to pass authorizations, even when Congress is dominated by the opposing party, it is a sign of the politically positive relationship between the two branches, especially since in recent years Congress has not necessarily been aligned with the political standing of the president.
Congress and the President have a quid pro quo relationship, which is defined as a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something. This is a result of the powers they were awarded through the Constitution. According to Article 7, Section 7 of the Constitution, the President retains vetoing power over Congress. Therefore, any legislation Congress wishes to pass can only become law if the President ratifies it. On the opposite side, the only way for Congress to overturn a presidential veto is to get a two-thirds majority vote, which can be extremely difficult. Under Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution, the President may recommend measures he considers to be ‘necessary and expedient’, but Congress retains the right to reject the measures set forth by the President. So, in order for the branches to effectively work together towards a certain goal, they need to be on the same page. When it comes to their disagreements, the one thing that neither Congress nor the President can accept is a public perception of two squabbling bodies which are meant to be the pinnacle of political power in the United States. So, because they are divided on many issues, the quid pro quo comes into play when they have to negotiate with one another to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an executive policy that was announced by President Obama on June 15th, 2012, and two months later, on August 15th, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services started accepting applications for the program. The purpose of this policy was to protect eligible young immigrants who came to the United States when they were children from deportation, as well as allow them to get work permits. Although the program expires after two years it can be renewed.
This was the executive’s way of assisting with the immigration issue and the issue of higher education for undocumented immigrants. However, when Donald Trump was running for the presidency, his campaign was based on the promise of cracking down on illegal immigration. Along with this, he vowed to end the DACA program. Later when he was actually elected, he seemed to change his stance saying that DACA is a “very very difficult subject” for him and he wants to “deal with DACA with heart”. In 2017, the Trump administration rescinded DACA, but four months later U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered, pending final judgment, that DACA be kept with the same terms and conditions that were in effect prior to the rescission. Trump’s administration aimed to appeal Judge Alsup’s order to continue the program to the Supreme Court. Trump argued that Obama, his predecessor, lacked the authority to institute the program. There will not be a Supreme Court ruling on whether or not Trump can kill the program until 2020.
Similar to DACA is the DREAM Act, which stands for Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors. The DREAM Act, unlike DACA, is a legislative approach to help stop undocumented immigrants from being deported. It was first introduced on April 25th, 2001 by Representative Luis Gutierrez, who had originally called it the Immigrant Children’s Educational Advancement and Dropout Prevention Act of 2001. Since then, at least 10 versions of this Act have been introduced to Congress. The most recent of these is the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which provides a way for former and future undocumented high school graduates and GED recipients to become citizens through college, work, or the armed services.
The key difference between DACA and DREAM is that DREAM’s ultimate purpose is to create a way for undocumented immigrants to become citizens, while DACA does not create any pathway toward acquiring citizenship. The reason that DACA became law was that it was an executive order; it only needed the President to agree with it to become law. However, DREAM being a legislative act means that it needs the agreement of the representatives, which is why it has been changed so many times and has yet to become a law because it takes collective agreement to be passed.
The Constitution gives enumerated powers to Congress among these is the authority to “establish a Uniform Rule of Naturalization” and to prohibit “the migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit” (Marouf). Meaning Congress has the right to create immigration laws, but the execution of those laws is the responsibility of the executive and legislative. Adding together both the enumerated powers and the necessary and proper clause, the Supreme Court has said that “over no conceivable subject is the legislative power of Congress more complete than it is over the admission of aliens” (Marouf). So, in terms of the powers delegated to the governmental branches, for President Obama to create “an alternative presidential immigration system [...] nullifies the limits of the statutory immigration system” and “is plainly unconstitutional” (cis.org). Basically, the President’s immigration power is strongest when he/she agrees with Congress, but is the weakest when the executive branch and Congress have conflict with one another.
The topic of immigration is controversial and there is no one answer to fix the problem. Donald Trump has made his stance on it clear, although he tends to contradict himself often, he wants to deport undocumented immigrants, but the way he wants to go about it is not right. From what people have seen, he is against immigration and shows it through his plans to build a wall in hopes to stop immigrants from illegally entering the U.S. But such a plan is not the answer that many people might be looking for, there should be a way to control illegal immigration without losing our humanity and empathy for those who want to come to the U.S. because it is a chance for a better life. Congress does not seem to share the same feelings towards immigration, instead of completely stopping it, they hope to reform it and come to a better agreement on what the laws surrounding the issue should be.
Obama’s intention behind DACA was both moral and public based, he had many people begging him to do something about the immigration issue. He had good intentions in passing the policy, but it was like putting a small band-aid on a huge bullet wound, the solution was only temporary to a long-existing problem. President Obama’s “bold assertion of Executive authority” could have a lasting impact but only if it becomes a stepping-stone to comprehensive immigration reform and is followed with legislative action (Figueroa). Although President Obama’s intentions were good in that they had socioeconomic benefits and appealed to humanitarians, based on the statements from the Supreme Court and the article and amendments in the Constitution, it was not in his power to make that decision and create that policy alone.
Immigration reform needs to happen because it is very hard for people who are less fortunate to be able to come to the United States. Throughout history, the United States has been known as the land of opportunity and the land of the free because it gives people a chance at an improved form of living. A lot of the freedoms Americans enjoy are just pipe dreams for people who live in dangerous countries that oppress their citizens, such as North Korea, Venezuela, South Africa, etc. The only way for immigration reform to happen though is for the people and the branches of government to come together as one and fight for it. When people are divided, it breeds chaos, but when they choose to unite and work together, they can make a difference and can change the world. The executive, judicial, and legislative branches need to work together and put aside their agendas to create a better country for their people.
- Eidelson, Benjamin. “A Way Out for the Supreme Court on DACA”. The New York Times, 27 Oct. 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/27/opinion/daca-supreme-court.html
- Figueroa-Santana, Bianca. “Divided We Stand: Constitutionalizing Executive Immigration Reform through Subfederal Regulation”. Columbia Law Review, vol. 115, no. 8, Dec. 2015, pp. 2219–2264.
- Gelatt, Julia. “All Eyes Turn to Congress, Following Trump Decision to Terminate DACA Program”. Migrationpolicy.org, 20 Oct. 2017, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/news/all-eyes-turn-congress-following-trump-decision-terminate-daca-program
- González, Daniel. “Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump's Decision to End DACA”. USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 16 Jan. 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/01/09/federal-judge-blocks-trump-daca/1019530001/
- Marouf, Fatma E. “Executive Overreaching in Immigration Adjudication”. Tulane Law Review, vol. 93, no. 4, Apr. 2019, pp. 707–785.
- Ordorica, Dan. “Presidential Power and American Fear: A History of Ina § 212(F)”. Boston University Law Review, vol. 99, no. 4, Sept. 2019, pp. 1839–1872.
- Ting, Jan. “President Obama's ‘Deferred Action’ Program for Illegal Aliens Is Plainly Unconstitutional”. CIS.org, 2 Dec. 2014, https://cis.org/Report/President-Obamas-Deferred-Action-Program-Illegal-Aliens-Plainly-Unconstitutional
- Trueman, C.N. “The President and Congress”, History Learning Site, 27 Mar. 2015, https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/american-politics/the-president-and-congress/
- Tuckerhiggins. “Trump Immigration Policy on the Line as Supreme Court Weighs DACA in Arguments Tuesday”. CNBC, CNBC, 10 Nov. 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/10/trump-immigration-policy-on-the-line-as-supreme-court-weighs-daca.html
- Valverde, Miriam. “The Timeline: DACA, Trump and the Government Shutdown”. PolitiFact, 9 Jan. 2018, https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2018/jan/22/timeline-daca-trump-administration-and-government/