Democrats Would Support Obama Ignoring Federal Courts

February 22, 2015 Updated: February 22, 2015

If Obama were to order federal agencies to ignore the injunction issued by a Texas federal judge and continue with the deferred action programs for illegal immigrants, he would find more support than opposition among Democrats.

A Rasmussen poll conducted two days after a district court judge suspended Obama’s immigration program found that 43 percent of Democrats think the president should “ignore federal court rulings” if they stand in the way of policies he finds important, whereas only 35 percent said he should comply with the courts.

Among the general electorate, a full 26 percent would support the president if he ignored the federal courts on policies he deemed important.

The president himself has showed no signs of evading the injunction, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also promised to comply with the court order, although the White House said it would file an emergency appeal of the ruling on Monday.

However, the administration has also sought to enforce as much of the president’s immigration directive as possible without violating the injunction. A Feb. 18 memo from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, obtained by the National Review, ordered border patrol agents to still comply with a DHS memo issued simultaneously with President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

“Officers and agents should continue to process individuals consistent with the enforcement priorities announced by the secretary in his memorandum of November 20, 2014,” wrote Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske.

The DHS memorandum ordered border agents to apply “discretion” in their enforcement of the U.S. border to prioritize the arrest of felons and those who pose a national security risk, in effect loosening law enforcement on run-of-the-mill illegal crossings, which is the goal of the president’s executive action. However, the memo painstakingly states that agents are not ordered to drop the enforcement of low-priority illegal crossings entirely.

“Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to prohibit or discourage the apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens unlawfully in the United States who are not identified as priorities herein,” the memo reads.

Republican Retreat

The federal injunction has done little to embolden Republicans in their efforts to defund the president’s executive action, and some have actually retreated in the wake of the ruling. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) became the third Republican in the Senate to side with Democrats on calling for a clean version of the DHS funding bill, joining Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

“I am willing and ready to pass a DHS funding bill and let this play out in court,” Graham said Sunday on ABC. “The worst possible outcome for this nation is to defund the Department of Homeland Security given the multiple threats we face to our homeland. And I will not be part of that.”

Funding for the DHS is scheduled to run out on Feb. 27, and Democrats in the Senate have repeatedly filibustered a funding bill because it contains amendments to reverse the president’s November immigration action. However, in the event of a shutdown, a vast majority of DHS employees would continue to work because they’re considered essential personnel.