President Obama says the illegal immigrants being given de-facto amnesty under his suspension-of-deportation policy are “Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.” Under the circumstances, Mr. Obama is probably the wrong person to make that argument.
The new policy, announced Friday, suspends enforcement of immigration laws against aliens who were brought to America before they turned 16 but are younger than 30 and have been in the country for at least five consecutive years. They are also allowed to apply for temporary work permits.
The White House denies this is an election-year move. “The president isn’t going to be stonewalled by politics,” an unnamed administration official told Politico. Despite such protestations, the calculations behind the move are transparent. The White House probably believes the gains they will make among Hispanic voters in battleground states in the South and Southwest will exceed the number of voters alienated by Obama-instituted amnesty.
Amnesty hits the economy hard. “These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag,” the president said in an attempt to redirect the national conversation. What he left out is that these newcomers also take our jobs. Most of the estimated 800,000 immigrants to whom the policy applies are of working age, pitted against young citizens in the competition for scarce employment. The struggle is fierce; youth unemployment and underemployment are about double what the rest of the country is suffering. Young voters who supported Mr. Obama in 2008 have to ask if this is the hope and change they expected.
Another problem central to amnesty is the Obama administration’s disturbing tendency not to enforce laws Mr. Obama doesn’t like. The Justice Department stopped enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, for example. Mr. Obama believes the president is in a position to pick and choose which laws he wants to enforce based solely on his personal and policy preferences.
Selective non-enforcement of the law presents a critical constitutional question. A president who ignores laws he disagrees with stands in direct violation of his constitutional requirements. Every president swears that he “will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States,” and Article 2, Section 3, clause 4 states that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” It is clear that the Constitution was not designed to give the executive branch discretionary power over whether to execute the law. The Founding Fathers did not design a government in which duly passed and signed laws would then be selectively shredded or allowed to wither on the vine through presidential inaction.
Does the administration argue that the executive may ignore any and every law on the books if he so chooses? Could a Republican administration also stop collecting taxes it disapproved of or enforcing job-killing environmental protection laws? And could Mr. Obama instruct the Justice Department not to enforce laws regarding election irregularities in states and precincts where that might work to his advantage? The White House needs to clarify how far the do-nothing presidency goes.
The Washington Times
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