President Obama’s executive order on amnesty is long and complex. Take a speed reading course and here’s what you can find out: nobody goes home unless the president decides you are unworthy of his beneficence.
The president has drawn arbitrary lines in the sand. Some people have to have been here five years or more, others not. He did not include parents of those who received earlier Obama amnesty grants, but instead made sure other relatives got his special treatment.
Can this possibly be a power delegated to the president by Congress? Of course not. It leaves the plenary power of Congress to set immigration limits and standards shivered in fragments, along with our system of checks and balances.
Forget Mr. Obama’s claims of fine legal distinctions or the bogus excuses about limited resources. These amnesty terms really are arbitrary. The president operates on a political whim, pursuing whatever he thinks is feasible politically.
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Mr. Obama is very close to organizations and people who want to destroy U.S. immigration controls. He is, as Saul Alinsky called it, close to the “scene of conflict.” The famous radical said, “One’s concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one’s distance from the scene of the conflict.” Mr. Obama isn’t near the conflict; he now is the conflict.
The president is now outside the law and the Constitution. He believes he cannot be stopped. That’s why, despite disclaimers to the contrary, he is acting like an emperor. The core threat to the United States is that his administration believes it can be lawless so long as no alien is denied a benefit. The president can admit whoever he wants; he can grant amnesty to whoever he wants; he can give out American jobs to whomever he wants; he can force taxpayers to pay for all manners of benefits. He thinks no one can stop him, and this cannot be sustained in a democracy.
Here is the core of this argument: The administration believes no one has legal standing to challenge him in court, so his distinctions are purely political, not legal. He could just decree everyone gets to stay with work cards. He could decree unlimited benefits for them all. He believes no court will review his policies. He may be right, but those who oppose him will do whatever they can to prove him wrong.
The longer an alien remains in the country illegally especially with granted benefits such as work documents the more difficult it is to ever remove them. Delay works in favor of the illegal alien and against taxpayers and law abiding Americans. Mr. Obama knows this.
In responding, the Republican leadership is already confused and fearful of being out-maneuvered again. Impeachment is neither contemplated nor threatened. Announced so far? Possible defunding and, later, passing bills he might veto?
Whatever the new Republican Congress does, it must do so with the expectation that Mr. Obama is not done with his radical overhaul of U.S. immigration policy by executive fiat. The sweeping amnesty he announced on Nov. 20 was only the culmination of a long series of orders and decisions gutting immigration law enforcement that included the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program another massive unlegislated amnesty that went largely unchallenged. He has continued this outrage nonstop since then. His new executive order will be followed by more and more illegal actions over the next two years.
Naturally, the new Congress must pass an explicit bar to try to prevent the president from carrying out these executive orders. He will veto, of course, and in doing so prove this has nothing to do with his claims of limited resources and everything to do with trying to re-engineer this society.
But they must do more. They must realize the severity of the threat, the express loss of national self-determination indicated by a wholesale collapse in the rule of law.
Congress has been assaulted, demeaned and marginalized. The president will do more and more, in an effort to further embarrass, humiliate and provoke the Republican leadership. It must confront this president, and assert the broad principles that underscore our constitutional system. Congress must do so with an eye toward what will surely be these next two years “a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object (that) evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism.”
The precedent sought by President Obama will make the nation ungovernable, in time. No nation in recorded history has survived the sustained loss of border control. Despite the ill-named myth of American exceptionalism, neither can the United States.
• Dan Stein is the President of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a nonpartisan, nonprofit membership organization that promotes reforming U.S. immigration policies to serve the national interest.