DACA/DAPA and the Relational Conception: An Assessment of Inter-Branch Conflict Over Constitutional Authority in Immigration
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA
Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)
comprehensive immigration reform
Texas v. United States
In the history of the American republic, no branch of government has increased its powers more than the Executive Branch and no area of policy, arguably, has caused as much intense inter-branch conflict in recent years as immigration. Since the last major bipartisan immigration reform in 1986, Presidents have time and again exercised their executive powers to make immigration policy. Most of these exercises of power have been in the form of executive orders and actions granting reprieve from deportation to groups of undocumented immigrants. With the rise of illegal immigration in the 90s and steady decline in recent years, the U.S. currently faces an undocumented population of roughly 11 million. Which branch of government has the power to enact policy regarding these immigrants is heavily disputed. The current legal battle for constitutional authority in immigration is Texas v. United States, where 26 states have sued President Obama for abuse of executive power in creating an extension of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), programs which would grant reprieve from deportation to up to 4.3 million undocumented immigrants and issue them work authorization documents. To assess whether President Obama has the constitutional authority to promulgate these programs, this paper applies political scientist Mariah Zeisberg’s relational conception model to analyze the inter-branch conflict on immigration between the Legislative Branch, traditionally charged with creating immigration policy, and the Executive Branch, traditionally charged with enforcing it.