NOTE. I have attached a copy of a section by section summary of the immigration reform bill I wrote when I was detailed to the Judiciary Committee ( If I were to revise it now, I would try to make it more acceptable to the Republicans.

Biden’s immigration plan has serious problems - Nolan Rappaport, opinion contributor

© Getty Images

The Biden “plan for securing our values as a nation of immigrants” raises serious concerns. He intends to work with Congress to reform our immigration laws, but his reform plans are limited to benefit provisions. He intends to deal with the harsh statutory enforcement provisions and inadequate relief provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) the way former president Barack Obama did: Ignore them and decide for himself which deportable aliens should be deported.

Frankly, I share Biden’s concern about the enforcement measures in the INA.

In fact, 20 years ago I was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee from the Justice Department to address the enforcement provisions in the INA. The Democrats on the committee needed an immigration law expert to write a bill that would restore fairness to those provisions.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) had made the INAs enforcement provisions much harsher and had made discretionary relief from deportation much harder to get.

After spending many hours listening to the concerns of immigration advocacy groups, I wrote the Restoration of Fairness in Immigration Act of 2002, which was introduced by Representative John Conyers with 41 cosponsors.

It wasn’t passed, and the enforcement problems I spent so much time working on still exist, but I think the statutory provisions Congress put in the INA should be followed until congress changes them. Here’s why:

Separation of powers

The framers of the Constitution believed that the way to safeguard against tyranny was to separate the powers of government into three separate branches so that each would check the other two.

Article 1 established the Legislative Branch (Congress) to create the laws. Article 2 established the Executive Branch(the president) to approve and carry out the laws created by the Legislative Branch. And Article 3 established theJudicial Branch (the courts) to interpret the laws passed by the Legislative Branch.

In addition to the checks and balances, this ensures that Federal law will be written by our elected representatives in Congress and subjected to the hearings, markups, and floor votes of the legislative process which are open to the public — not behind closed doors at the White House.


Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @NolanR1or at