- - Friday, November 21, 2014

What do the president’s amnesty plan and Obamacare have in common? Both were orchestrated with massive government-funded propaganda.

Barack Obama is repeating the process used by him and by MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber to enact Obamacare, based on manipulation, deception and the supposed stupidity of American voters, who were told they could keep their plan and keep their doctor.

Now Mr. Obama is using a Gruber-esque trick: A legal memo that relies on a gimmick to declare his amnesty plan is lawful.

Americans should remember the adage, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

The plan trotted out by Mr. Obama on Thursday night doesn’t change the gimmicks used for years to promote “comprehensive immigration reform”:

* Securing the border first. (Disregard the massive influx this year.)

* Prioritizing criminals. (Ignore the 36,000 released by immigration officials last year, including almost 200 convicted killers, also the 167,000 criminals still awaiting deportation.)

* Requiring background checks. (Mostly perfunctory and backlogged and proven to overlook offenders.)

* Paying back taxes. (Actually applies only to those previously sent an IRS audit bill. Nobody else has to catch up.)

* Paying fines and fees. (The DACA program says fees cannot be “waived,” but then grants “exemptions” from fees instead.)

* Learning English. (In practice, filled with loopholes.)Going to the back of the line. (Actually, there’s no line involved.)

The propaganda begins with Mr. Obama’s false claims of record deportation levels, which are based on changing the classic definitions. Someone caught at the border and turned away is now counted as a deportation, rather than measuring those caught within our heartland and sent home. True deportations are way down.

The height of his newest propaganda is Mr. Obama’s claim that his actions are not amnesty, but that anything except his policy amounts to a de facto amnesty: “I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today.”

The biggest and most crucial amnesty gimmick is a brand-new memo from Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice, proclaiming the plan to be legal — but only because of one creatively added loophole. The memo deserves an Olympic gold medal for legal gymnastics. It confirms the governing law is this, “The Executive cannot, under the guise of exercising enforcement discretion, attempt to effectively rewrite the laws to match its policy preferences.”

The memo, from the Office of Legal Counsel, also adds that a president cannot adopt “a general policy that is so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities.”

What could be more extreme than exempting millions of people automatically instead of applying prosecutorial discretion or deferred action on a case-by-case basis? Our Constitution requires that each president must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Rather than obeying that clause, Mr. Obama wanted an escape clause and he is trying to create one.  

The Justice Department memo says the entire legality hinges on a special loophole that Mr. Obama obviously added for this purpose. The loophole is that, despite the new deportation priorities, an immigration field office director can nevertheless propose “the removal of even non-priority aliens if, in their judgment … removing such an alien would serve an important federal interest.”

According to the memo, this loophole saves the entire plan. It treats the possibility of occasional disagreements with the president’s policy as the functional equivalent of case-by-case decisions of whether to grant amnesty. But office directors cannot review these cases; under the new system those cases instead will bypass them. This is like expecting immigration officers to find a needle in a haystack that’s moving full-speed on a roaring freight train. These also are the very officials whose deportation judgments have routinely been reversed by Mr. Obama’s appointees.

This creates an upside-down system. The burden is placed on bureaucrats to defy the president and show some special reason to deport, instead of requiring admitted illegal aliens to prove why they should not be deported.

Mr. Obama rests his entire legal theory on this flimsy bit of bureaucratic pretense. It demonstrates just how many gimmicks and how much flim-flam are at the root of the president’s strategy. With the help of Mr. Holder, Mr. Obama’s amnesty plan is out-Grubering Professor Gruber himself.

Ernest Istook is a former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma. ​Get Ernest’s free email newsletter. Signup at eepurl.com/JPojD

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