EDITORIAL: Who needs Congress?

Executive fiat opens the immigration floodgates

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On her way out the door Tuesday as Homeland Security chief, Janet Napolitano lamented the failure of Congress to enact the Dream Act. It’s not clear why it matters to her, considering the Obama administration has been acting as if a path to citizenship for illegal-alien youths had already passed through the legislative process.

In a directive issued Friday, Homeland Security expanded a previous nondeportation order to allow parents and guardians of noncriminal illegal alien youth to remain in the country, so long as the youth qualified to stay under the previous “Dreamer” policy. Euphemistically dubbed “prosecutorial discretion,” the latest rules were announced in a nine-page Immigrations and Customs Enforcement memo to field agents.

Congressional Republicans are understandably unhappy about being cut out of the legislative process. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has been considering immigration-related legislation, says that the move “poisons the debate” and shows that President Obama is trying to “politicize the issue.”

Advocates for illegal immigrants have been urging the president to expand what’s known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deportation moratorium to all of the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally. “If the president granted me DACA, then why can’t he do the same for the rest of my family?” asked one “Dreamer.” That would only serve to double down on the most troubling aspect of the policy: Through the end of July, fully 98.3 percent of all 437,686 applicants for “deferred action” have been approved, suggesting the process is little more than a rubber-stamp, with scant concern for fraud.

By tugging at our heartstrings with sob stories of young immigrant families, Democrats hope to clear the way for illegal-alien chain migration by proxy. They say that we shouldn’t punish children who illegally arrived in the country through no fault of their own. It’s a premise that government often ignores in other contexts. When a single mother is convicted on drug charges, for example, she is sent to prison, even though that necessarily means her children will be sent to live with relatives or placed into foster care.

Democrats aren’t interested in principle; they’ll hand out citizenship to anyone likely to vote Democratic. Republicans need to stand up against the blatant opportunism. The president’s mantra “If Congress won’t act, I will” is intended as a stick in their eye. The failure of congressional Republicans to respond in a meaningful way or roll back the encroachment on their policymaking turf emboldens the White House to continue bypassing the constitutional process.

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