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Congress needs to learn how to govern, not just complain, obstruct and sue

So far, Republicans have been successful in dealing a severe blow to President Obama’s sweeping immigration executive actions, but the end game should be for Congress actually to govern. Not presidential mandate, and certainly not the continued dysfunction that made the last Congress one of the least effective in recent memory. The key is compromise.

Republicans, rattled by Obama’s plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, shopped around to find a compliant judge.

The president wanted to shield as many as 5 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation. He acted only after Congress, under two presidents, refused.

A judge’s ruling would have allowed the expansion of an existing program, which was to have started Wednesday and which now will be postponed, affecting as many as 270,000 immigrants who arrived in this country as children. Also delayed, a second program that would benefit roughly 4 million immigrants with children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents through a program scheduled to start in May.

Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Brownsville, ruled in favor of Texas and 25 other states that objected to Obama’s immigration actions.

The issue is not that Obama’s actions were challenged in court. That was to be expected. Moreover, it is the way the system works. If Republicans believe the president is acting outside his legitimate powers, test it out. This page has said, “Suing Obama would at least allow the court to rule on the limits of presidential power.”

The president is playing a shrewd game of politics in forcing this issue critical to so many Americans. There are the children who were born here and, therefore, legal citizens whose parents might otherwise be deported were it not for Obama’s actions. And there are the legal spouses and other family members of those who would be forced to leave the country.

If that is not critical enough for Republicans, there are farmers across this country dependent upon immigrants to do the work that keeps prices down. There is an economy to consider when visiting this topic.

White House officials have said the government would continue to prepare the path laid out by the president, but would not begin accepting applications from immigrants here illegally until the court case was settled. The Justice Department is reviewing whether to ask an appeals court to block Hanen’s ruling and allow executive actions to proceed. We expected nothing less, but there is a better way.

Congress should govern. The president should not be the sole decision-maker on an issue critical to the future of this country. The Republicans are right about that but they are missing the point of compromise. No one is going to be completely satisfied, but that is the result when people with opposing viewpoints come together with the aim of moving forward.

Anything a functional Congress can come up with on the disposition of millions of illegal immigrants has to be better than the progress made to date, which is none.