The president dismantles immigration law that he finds incompatible with his own larger agenda.
by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online
There is a humane, transparent, truthful — and constitutional — way to address illegal immigration. Unfortunately, President Obama’s unilateral plan to exempt millions of residents from federal immigration law is none of those things.
Obama said he had to move now because of a dawdling Congress. He forgot to mention that there were Democratic majorities in Congress in 2009 and 2010, yet he did nothing, in fear of punishment at the polls.
Nor did Obama push amnesty in 2011 or 2012, afraid of hurting his own re-election chances.
Worries over sabotaging Democratic chances in the 2014 midterms explain his inaction from 2012 until now. He certainly wouldn’t have waited until 2015 to act, because Republicans will then control Congress.
Given that he has no more elections and can claim no lasting achievements, Obama now sees amnesty as his last desperate chance at establishing some sort of legacy.
Obama cited empathy for undocumented immigrants. But he expressed no such worry about the hundreds of thousands of applicants who wait for years in line rather than simply illegally cross the border.
Any would-be immigrant would have been far wiser to have broken rather than abided by federal laws. Citizens who knowingly offer false information on federal affidavits or provide false Social Security numbers would not receive the sort of amnesties likely to be given to undocumented immigrants.
Obama has downplayed Americans’ worries about social costs and competition for jobs, but studies show illegal immigration has depressed the wages of entry-level American workers while making social services costly for states and burdensome for U.S. citizens.
Obama says he has the legal authority to rewrite immigration law without working with Congress. Yet on more than twenty occasions when it was politically inexpedient to grant amnesties, Obama insisted that he would not — or that such a move was prohibited by the Constitution.
Obama not long ago warned us about the dangers of granting amnesties by fiat. “The problem is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States,” he said. On another occasion, he lamented, “Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. . . . But that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.”
By setting aside settled immigration policy and ignoring statutes he finds inconvenient, Obama has set a new precedent that a president can arbitrarily declare what is valid and what is not valid immigration law. Should his successors make up their own versions of any federal statutes they choose, in areas ranging from abortion and gun control to drug enforcement and environmental protection?
Obama claims he has the legal authority to grant amnesty because Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush did it. But again, Obama predictably misleads. Both of those presidents worked with Congress to ensure that new immigration legislation would not split apart families. The amnesties they granted were in accordance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and had only a fraction of the impact that Obama’s executive order would have.
More importantly, even those congressionally sanctioned and narrow amnesties were largely seen as failures. Past non-enforcement of immigration law helped lead to the explosion in illegal immigration of recent years.
Obama says Congress is stalling. But his characterization of congressional inaction simply means that the Congress does not wish to pass Obama’s version of immigration reform. In 2015, if the Republican Congress submits an immigration bill to Obama, he will likely veto it. Would he then term his own opposition “obstructionism”?
Obama has claimed that under his administration, deportations have increased. That, too, is untrue.
The fraudulent statistics used to make this claim redefine how deportation is measured — in much the same manner that other federal statistics like unemployment rates and GDP growth were recalibrated for partisan purposes. Under Obama, Mexican citizens who are apprehended after crossing the border and returned to Mexico are classified as having been deported.
Obama carefully omitted key details about qualifications for amnesty. He cited a criminal background check, but does that mean immigrants convicted of crimes such as driving under the influence or other serious misdemeanors will be deported? What about filing false federal affidavits or Social Security numbers — crimes that are usually felonies?
The president suggested that all undocumented immigrants are here to work. Most are. But recent statistics still suggest that almost 40 percent of undocumented immigrants rely on some sort of state or federal welfare assistance.
Obama will immediately reward millions of undocumented immigrants with exemption from immigration law. But does that mean those who do not qualify — those who committed felonies or serious misdemeanors, who have no sustained record of work, or who have been in the United States for only a year or two — will now face deportation that is as rapidly applied as amnesty?
Because Obama has serially misled the American people on key issues such as Obamacare, the Benghazi attacks, and his own prior constitutional inability to grant amnesty, there is no reason to believe him on the details of his new immigration move. Assume instead that Obama sees his executive order simply as a first step in a continual unilateral effort to dismantle immigration law that he finds incompatible with his own larger agenda.
For Obama, federal law is inconvenient — and therefore irrelevant.
© 2014 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
15 thoughts on “For Obama, Inconvenient Law Is Irrelevant Law”
A little-discussed aspect of Obama’s executive actions is that they introduce us to “rule by dear leader”. If one President can decree any particular change in law without action from Congress, so can the next, and the next. And we descend into effective lawlessness, because there is no longer a written code for the courts to refer to, and thus no basis for action, or inaction, except personal whim.
I hope that somehow we survive the next two years and that we don’t turn into a third-world country.
Sorry , Joan, but I gave up “hope”, especially never “hope and change” long long ago.
“…Obama now sees amnesty as his last desperate chance at establishing some sort of legacy.”
Obama’s legacy will be that of a president who damaged the Constitution through lies, distortions, half-truths
justifying the overreach of the executive branch. He will not be remembered fondly or as a great man, only as America’s first black president who really buggered things up.
It took three or four months into Obama’s Presidency for me to soberly realize this man simply does not care. The idea that he will come to the center is a pipe dream left over from the Clinton years. Obama has a one track mind and it has nothing what ever to do with Presidential administrative ability. He had no intention of working with the Republicans from the get go. His gate keeper Harry Reid made sure no Republican bills reached the Oval Office. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway because the Annointed One rarely uses it, preferring instead to use backdrops of long hall ways with which he can make his kingly entrances. I guess the Greek columns and stadiums went to his head. The next few weeks will be interesting as ThenRepublicans get ready to take over control of Congress. Let’s see if they can actually come up with a plan to hobble this President and move on to electing a Conservative in 2016. Nothing less can give America at least a chance to repair some of the immense damage Obama and his cronies have done to our Republic.
I appreciate your observations, Victor, but you are preaching to the choir. My question Is “what in God’s name or what is the hell is congress going to do about it”. Obama is bad for the country, BUT so is the congress who stands by and doesn’t either impeach or control this narcissistic lunatic. Example, someone who stands and watches and assault or murder and doesn’t call 911 or intervene, in my mind is just as guilty. As another note” doesn’t Joan Sands stop believing in “HOPE”
Obama has done most everything to poke his finger in America’s eye. However, he has not started a war with the Russians, nor has he given American nuclear secrets to the Iranians. I don’t think that the Russians want an armed confrontation (but who knows) nor does Obama know enough about the military to be able to provoke one. Technical information on nuclear weapons is quite another matter. Obama’s desire for an accommodation with the Iranians is palpable; one can almost taste it. Yet the Iranian negotiators are openly contemptuous of the American position and the American negotiators. The talks give the Iranians what they want – time; some major sweetener is going to be necessary for successful closure. Significant information transfer of nuclear design data would very likely do it. And it would be yet another – probably the most serious – betrayal of America’s essential interests, and therefore delectable to Obama almost beyond words.
I would suggest that it is time to circulate through the weapons community a threat, or a promise, of drastic action in the event of any collaboration with hostile interests.
This may seem paranoid but what is left for Obama to do, to surpass the danger and insult of the dissolution of American borders, and his attempt to introduce Ebola into the US?
Obama’s legacy will be that of the worst president in the history of this country, who lied to and mislead the American people with the help of a compliant press.
I was hoping for more logical argument and citation by quote rather than unfounded conclusions and odd accusations. Perhaps in future postings we will no longer hear about Bengazi? One can only hope that a conservative public intellectual will arise who is more rational than the insane media personalities who seem to be driving the current conservative agenda.
An stupid opinion lambasting an opinion. Nice.
I, for one, stand by the intellectual rigor of your commentary.
For liberals such as those directly above it’s not that you are wrong it’s that you’re stupid (Gruber et al); racist (pick any one of the serial race arsonists from Blow to Holder to Sharpton); you wage war on women (Wendy Davis and the one horse abortion as contraception “feminists”); that you hate the planet (how dare you ask Al Gore and the ‘Gentry Liberal’ community to explain their “consensus science”, a political and economic heist of global proportions). The list of elitist progressive liberal charges masquerading as policy is endless.
For me you almost touch the moment. Progressive liberals such as Mr. Obama see our constitution, our government, its law and regulations, our churches and mosques, the NFL indeed any institution as sitting below the righteousness of progressive liberal goals. Therefore, any action by a progressive liberal in pursuit of those goals is legitimate. It is why Mr. Obama will continue to act as he does.
Americans will have to spend more time choking on Obamacare and the remaining excesses of this progressive liberal moment before it is roundly expunged.
“” american tanks back on the european frontier”” from hot air
” l´état c´est moi ” is the new guide line of Obama……..
The photograph of Obama at the head of this essay – pleased as he puts one over on his audience (the thinks) reminds me very much of Kim Philby in his 1955 interview in which he denied his treason – the same smirk, the same self-congratulatory attitude.
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