On Friday, 15-JUN-12, President Obama bypassed Congress (and the Constitution) and decreed that 800,000 illegal immigrants can not only stay in the country legally but be given work permits.
“(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON – President Obama eased enforcement of immigration laws Friday, offering a chance for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work. Immediately embraced by Hispanics, the extraordinary step touched off an election-year confrontation with congressional Republicans.”
“This is not amnesty; this is not immunity; this is not a path to citizenship; it’s not a permanent fix,” Mr. Obama said. “This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is the right thing to do.”
“The policy change will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the “DREAM Act,” congressional legislation that would establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who attend college or join the military.”
“Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed.”
Does the President of the United States have the authority, under the Constitution, to change immigration laws?
Below is an excerpt from Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution (Powers reserved for Congress):
“To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization”
Here is the text of the 14th Amendment, Section 1:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
There is a comprehensive article written by Mark Levin in 2005 that provides history of Immigration legislation and Supreme Court rulings that can be found here but this is a pertinent quote that supports my viewpoint.
“If there is one area of law that should be universally understood as being largely outside the purview of the Supreme Court’s social engineering reach, it is immigration. Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution states that Congress shall have the power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.”
US Representative Steve King, R-Kiron, Iowa, seems to agree that Obama’s recent decision is in conflict with the US Constitution.
“SIOUX CITY | U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, Iowa, said he may sue President Barack Obama to halt the administration’s revised immigration policy announced Friday.”
“It’s no longer a discussion or debate about immigration. It’s a discussion about separation of powers. It’s about the survival of the Constitution,” King said.”
“The Obama policy, which takes effect immediately and does not require congressional approval, gives some illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children a chance to stay in the country and work.”
“Some of the elements in the revised policy mirror the so-called “DREAM Act,” which sought to give legal status to young immigrants and those who finished high school or college or were in the military. The act has repeatedly failed in Congress.”
“King, the vice chairman of a House subcommittee for immigration and border issues, said Obama is trying to go around Congress to get parts of the DREAM Act enacted, contrary to constitutional rules. He said the rule change should have had legislative approval. “
“If Congress says no, the president cannot say yes,” he said.”
For full disclosure here, I don’t have much of an issue with the substance of the new edict Obama issued since I’ve stated before that I believe we need a Federal program to provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants (who are law abiding) AFTER we secure the border. It is unfair to penalize children who had no part in this illegal activity (entering the US illegally) and if the families are law abiding and contributing to society, both economically and socially, then we should welcome them as citizens but we must also secure the borders to prevent future illegal immigrants from taking advantage of this one time course correction.
My problem with Obama’s recent edict is with the method that it was carried out. Obama’s edict is very similar to the Dream Act which, in many forms, has been repeatedly rejected by Congress and since immigration laws reside with the Congress, Obama’s move on Friday bypassed the Constitution.
I don’t know what motivated Obama to perform this illegal act. It could be that he is pandering for Latino voters who, overwhelmingly voted for him in 2008, have recently become upset with his administrations inability to provide on their campaign promises. It could be that Obama knew Florida Senator Marco Rubio was working on similar Legislation and the President wanted to short circuit the Legislative process and steal a victory from Republicans.
“The news jumps ahead of Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been working on a similar proposal for three months but had yet to release the details, and puts him and other Republicans who said they are open to helping young immigrants in an awkward spot.”
“Today’s announcement will be welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer, but it is a short-term answer to a long-term problem,” Rubio said. “And by once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short-term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long-term one.”
I don’t care about Obama’s motivations or whether this move was the “right thing” to do or not. We are a nation that lives by the rule of law and the leader of the US just violated our most cherished legal document – The US Constitution.
If we see the President of the US ignore the rule of law then what message does that send to the US citizens? If we don’t like the progressive tax structure, can we refuse to pay a part or all of our Federal tax dollars? Can US citizens start carrying firearms in public without obtaining proper permits? If we don’t agree with Roe v. Wade, can Pro-Life supports start killing doctors that perform abortions? Are speed limits no longer the law but merely suggestions? If the President can ignore laws that are enacted by elected officials then who’s to say average citizens can’t do the same thing?
This is troubling for a nation that is already flirting with a culture of anarchism. Occupy has demonstrated their desire to overthrow Capitalism, Black Panthers have stated that they will dispense their own justice by offering a bounty on the head of George Zimmerman and Leftists are obsessed with Socialistic thought about Income Inequality and everyone paying their fair share.
Obama just showed the country that he is more interested in being re-elected than obeying the rule of law and that should cause every US citizen to think seriously about their vote in November.