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  • An Imperial Immigration Policy

    On Friday, the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum telling U.S. immigration officials how they should “enforce the Nation’s immigration laws against certain young people who were brought to this country as children and know only this country as home.”

    The Administration’s move is an attempt to implement major elements of the DREAM Act, a controversial bill that’s been introduced in both Democratic- and Republican-controlled Congresses but has always lacked the votes to be passed into law.

    Having failed in the legislative branch, how can the executive do this?

    The Administration insists it has wide “prosecutorial discretion” when it comes to enforcing immigration law. No one doubts that judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers should have discretion about what charges to bring and how to handle particular cases. There are always exceptions to the rule. But Friday’s order, which uses the term discretion some 10 times, seems to go beyond discretion to the point of creating a policy scheme contrary to existing law. The exception has become the new rule.

    Imagine a police chief instructing everyone on the police force to issue no speeding tickets to anyone under age 26, regardless of how fast the driver was going. That’s not discretion; it’s a policy instruction that changes the meaning of the law. Former Bush Administration lawyer John Yoo goes further:

    Imagine the precedent this claim would create. President Romney could lower tax rates simply by saying he will not use enforcement resources to prosecute anyone who refuses to pay capital-gains tax. He could repeal Obamacare simply by refusing to fine or prosecute anyone who violates it.

    As a policy matter, there are legislative solutions to the problem posed by the situation that some children at a very young age were brought by their parents to the United States illegally. A proper solution  would uphold the principles of immigration reform and not open the door to a blanket amnesty. Finding an actual solution through the legislative process would give the law legitimacy and more permanency, and it might even result in a bipartisan agreement. It would be part of a larger effort to find effective, reasonable and pro-immigration solutions to safeguard the nation’s borders, promote the rule of law, and administer a fair and positive immigration and naturalization system.

    The fundamental problem is that the Administration is trying to implement laws that Congress hasn’t passed. The President himself has admitted that he doesn’t have the constitutional authority to implement the DREAM Act: “The idea of doing things on my own is very tempting, I promise you, not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions,” he told Hispanic activists last year.

    Indeed, the order seems to recognize its constitutional shortcomings: “This memorandum confers no substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship,” it admits. “Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.” Yet what the Administration can’t achieve as a matter of law it seems to be focused on accomplishing as a matter of fact.

    The Administration is making a habit of overstepping its bounds. Last fall it issued sweeping waivers of the No Child Left Behind Act if states would implement national education standards not authorized by Congress. “Congress hasn’t been able to do it, so I will,” Obama announced then. Then there are the President’s recess appointments when the Senate isn’t in recess. The list goes on.

    In our system of government, Congress is the legislative branch and is responsible for making the laws. Presidents are supposed to “faithfully execute” the laws to the best of their ability, not reshape them to suit their own policy goals.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to An Imperial Immigration Policy

    1. KJinAZ says:

      No single person in this country has the power to ignore the rule of law. Our constitution makes this VERY clear. This is the reason for the 3 branches of government. This was done to keep balance in our legal system. What Obama did on Friday clearly violates the rules. Obama is not a dictator, and does not have the authority to tell any law enforcment group to ignore the rule of law.

      The federal case against Arizona's SB1070 law, which only mimics federal law, should be decided soon. The decision should uphold Arizona's right to do the job the federal government is ignoring. This will open the door to real justice, and put a black eye on the federal government for their failures to do their job. The question still remains as to weather the Supreme court will take positive steps to force the federal government to do their job as prescribed by the constitution, and ignore the recent act by Obama. This is a key argument that the courts need to show leadership on, but at this time it is still unclear weather they will do their job or continue to allow this president to rule as a dictator. Our freedom and futures are at stake here, will the Supreme court do the right thing?

      • Whisperpoint says:

        We elect a President as Chief Executive to make decisions on where to focus resources when Congress does not fund law enforcement and immigration enough to enforce every law. Living in this country without proper immigration status means INS can choose to enforce deporting a person. A non-citizen living in the United States does not need to have broken any law. Many come into the country legally and stay longer than their legal documentation allows. Enforcement of laws are prioritized all the time. If someone steals, they may go to jail. That is a high penalty. Not every speeder gets a ticket every time they speed. But if they are caught they may pay a fine. That is less penalty and less likely to be enforced. There is no fine for overstaying your visa or student status or your stay at Disneyland. That makes it less of a priority than enforcing any laws that have jail time or fines in the hierarchy of things. Arizona wants to change that priority without the support of Congress, the President or the courts.

    2. david says:

      So who is responsible for calling Obama to the mat?

    3. Bobbie says:

      For a man to tell people what their "American dream" is and give people his interpretated "American dream" at the cost and infringement of the law abiding who by American principles establish their own American dream within their own abilities, budget and expense, is so treasonously unAmerican. To encourage neglect of the law and act as hero to protect the unlawful without retribution is not an American man to trust but a dangerous man to know.

      For parents ignoring the law to infringe on the lives of another country and especially put this horrendous weight on their own children's shoulders, tells you the evolution of 21st century people. Selfish, thoughtless, arrogant and dependent on government that isn't their own or paid by them and naive not to see the trap government control is setting the country up for. People show themselves cowards not to live this county's principled expectation to provide for ones own without burdening society or it's government.

      Obama and his like, are doing the country and all mankind a great disservice. Obama hands out American dreams putting contempt on those that mind their own business, working to fulfill their own dreams. The only people productive in society are those that aren't cost burdens to society while Obama and his unconstitutional costs are defeating America's purpose…

    4. Joe Reimuller says:

      We see in Obama a dictator who is now in process of changing America outside our established legislative and legal institutions. Who will stop him, and how will they do it…or will we just quietly watch the Constitution and our cherished traditions flogged and torn apart?

    5. Dave Zubas says:

      This move is probably illegal and could be tossed before the election in November, but in any case, it will serve the purpose for Obama which is to get as many Hispanic votes as possible. He is reinforcing his positive image with Hispanics who are drinking the liberal koolaid and believe that liberals care more about them then Republicans and conservatives. Romney has to somehow turn this perception around between now and November as he needs to increase the number of Hispanic voters that want Obama out of the Whitehouse.

    6. Carol, AZ says:

      Congress must block this recent motion. Front and center Mitt Romney will secure our border as his frist order of Buss on illegal immigration before any other issues over illegals living here are decided upon.
      That's his platform on this issue and I believe him.

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