Secretary Johnson's memo further directs ICE and CBP to "identify persons in their custody" and to "review pending removal cases" and refer such criminal immigrants as qualify for "expanded deferred action" to USCIS for immediate amnesty processing.
On the same day as Secretary Johnson circulated his memorandum, President Obama, in a nationally televised speech from the White House, advised the American people of his intention to "take executive action" to obviate the dully enacted immigration laws of the United States. Everyone assumed, and the White House Press Corp was deliberately led to believe, that the President was about to issue another of his "in-your-face Congress" executive orders.
But President Obama never did sign such an executive order, and he never had any intention of doing so. He doesn't have to. All he had to do was direct DHS Secretary Johnson to do his dirty work for him.
Congress was, once again, incensed at the President's "lawlessness" and contempt for the Congress and for the Constitution. But all their bluff and bluster is political posturing. There is nothing they can do to stop Obama. The President's actions, while they are un-Constitutional, are not illegal. He isn't usurping Congressional authority; he is exercising the authority that Congress abrogated when they granted it to the President.
For the last 110 years, starting with Teddy Roosevelt's 1906 FDA, the Congress of the United States has been progressively and systematically neutering itself by inventing ever more and more Federal Agencies empowered to regulate almost every facet of American life. And they have vested the responsibility for the direction of every one of those regulatory agencies in the Executive Branch.
Obama, then, has every legal right to direct his DHS chief to loosen requirements for deportation of criminal immigrants. The Congress can do nothing because it has tied its own hands. The President is not doing anything that Congress has not already given him authority to do – to legislate through regulation.
The President is within his legal rights to direct his EPA to destroy the American coal industry, to direct his NSA to spy on American citizens, and to direct his IRS to persecute his political enemies. They are his agencies. Congress gave them to him. All Congress can do is investigate individual agencies and try to show malfeasance within that agency. If it can be shown that the president directed Lois Lerner to persecute his political enemies, no crime has been committed.
Meanwhile Texas Attorney General and Governor-Elect Greg Abbott has been joined by the Attorney Generals of sixteen other 'states in his lawsuit to block the implementation of the Johnson memorandum. And Abbott's suit is based not on the illegality of the President's edict, but on its un-Constitutionality.
This is but one more example of the futility of depending on Washington to solve our problems – particularly the problems they themselves created. Our only hope of countering the cumulative effects of a century of federal corruption and incompetence resides in our State capitals.