Late last week, President Obama signed an Executive Order wherein he announced his decision to shirk his Constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” This also violates his personal promise to do so—not a campaign promise, but his oath of office:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
His EO does this: it protects from immigration law enforcement those illegal immigrants who came to the US before they were 16, are younger than 30, have committed no major criminal offenses, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, and have a US high school diploma or a GED or served in the US military.
This seems like a good idea, and it even has elements of Congressman Luis Gutierrez’ (D, IL) and Senator Marco Rubio’s (R, FL) plans for handling the children of illegal aliens.
John Yoo, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Bush the Younger administration, had this to say about the Obama Amnesty Program:
President Obama’s claim that he can refuse to deport 800,000 aliens here in the country illegally illustrates the unprecedented stretching of the Constitution and the rule of law. He is laying claim to presidential power that goes even beyond that claimed by the Bush administration, in which I served. There is a world of difference in refusing to enforce laws that violate the Constitution (Bush) and refusing to enforce laws because of disagreements over policy (Obama).
Under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, the president has the duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” This provision was included to make sure that the president could not simply choose, as the British King had, to cancel legislation simply because he disagreed with it. President Obama cannot refuse to carry out a congressional statute simply because he thinks it advances the wrong policy. To do so violates the very core of his constitutional duties.
As Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales notes, the move is both “political” and “well short of what we need as a country.” He told Fox News in a recent interview,
Substantively…it fails to deal with securing the border, visa over-stayers, enforcing tougher work place enforcement, and the millions of adults that came into the country illegally as adults.
Procedurally…it’s bad timing because it’s being done during what [Gonzales] calls “political silly season.”
“Rightly or wrongly, it is viewed as political, given the fact that we’re in an election season, and this is something that he could have done, certainly, well before now,” he said.
It is political, though; it doesn’t only look like one. It’s naked vote pandering. This “fix” is only temporary, as Obama himself admits; one President’s EO can be rescinded by another. Moreover, what is it that Obama is saying to Americans and to those who come here from other countries? He’s saying, as Gonzales emphasizes, that laws are what Obama says they are:
…by selectively failing to enforce the law faithfully he’s not doing his job making sure all laws are faithfully executed.
There’s that violation of a promise thing, again. And
…there are things that should be done in conjunction to reassure everyone that not only are we a compassionate nation in taking care of these kids, but we’re a nation of laws, and that we enforce our laws.
Gonzalez is being polite, though. Obama’s vote pandering by giving amnesty to some illegal aliens does nothing actually to address wither of the nation’s problems in this context: our immigration difficulties or our problem of what to do with the existing population of illegal aliens.
No effort has been made at all by Obama to address that overall problem of immigration into America: securing our borders (although, he is actively suing states to prevent them from doing so within the framework of existing Federal law); making it easier for foreigners to enter our country legally, and to stay here longer (e.g., once they’ve graduated from college, they have to leave; when the time limit on any other entry permit has expired, they must leave; when their work visas have expired, they must leave; etc. In the meantime, it takes weeks to months to get a green card or to convert an existing visa to one, and other visas are shamefully quota-ed); or to deal with the existing population of illegal aliens—a problem for which Congressman Gutierrez and Senator Rubio, as I mentioned above, have good beginning ideas.
Nor does this address the millions of Americans—citizens all—who are out of work today, or are badly underemployed. This Obama Amnesty Program adds an additional roughly 800,000 individuals to that pile (they are “required” by his Amnesty Program to apply for work permits, which are good for two years; although, in truth, there seems to be no requirement actually to apply for work with those permits)—where will they fit in the millions-long queue? If they go to the end of the line, what good will the work permit do them beyond allowing the fiction of their remaining in the US “legally?” Will the work permit then make them eligible for 99 weeks (nearly those two years) of unemployment insurance (or the reduced duration, should the Democrats actually allow the current 99 weeks to expire without extension)? On the nickels of the states forced to harbor these people?
And there’s more. Whose definition of “significant misdemeanor” will apply, and what is an example of such a thing? The illegal aliens already have committed one significant illegal action: they’re in the country illegally.
In the context of this post, that they were brought here without the capacity to decide for themselves whether they wanted to commit this offense certainly might be cause for mitigation. But we can’t forget that, having reached their age of majority, they certainly did have the capacity to decide for themselves whether they wanted to continue the (now their own) offense. However, we also cannot forget the power of family ties, the developed community ties, their childhood histories, and so on. Plainly, for the children and young adults in this situation, a solution will not be easy. But that puts a premium on solving the illegal alien problem as a whole, and not just layering on epicycles of special case treatments whose aggregation will doom the whole orrery to catastrophic failure.
Finally, as Senator Lindsey Graham (R, SC) said,
I think it’s pretty clear there are 10 million illegal immigrants not affected by this. What about them? I don’t think it’s a brilliant move for a president of the United States to tell a federal agency to stop enforcing a law.
And as Governor Mitt Romney pointed out, in an echo of Gonzales,
If he felt serious about this he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate, but he didn’t.
In the end, though, I don’t think Americans of Hispanic heritage are as stupid as Obama thinks they are.