Backdoor Amnesty – Abusing the Constitution and Presidential Authority
Hans von Spakovsky /
When President Obama was inaugurated, he swore an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Article II, Section 3 directs the President to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Unfortunately, in what has become an all too common occurrence in this administration, Obama is once again bending that oath to the breaking point by specifically not taking care that immigration laws passed by Congress are faithfully executed.
The Department of Homeland Security announced on Thursday that it would halt all deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants who are attending school, have family in the military or are primarily responsible for other family members’ care, and allow them to apply for work permits. Apparently, the only illegal aliens that the Obama administration will detain and deport are those who have committed additional serious criminal offenses in the United States – the fact that they committed a crime under federal law by entering the United States illegally (8 U.S.C. § 1325) is apparently of no concern to this administration.
It is no coincidence that the factors that DHS says it will now consider are the very same provisions that were in the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors or DREAM Act that was proposed by Senator Dick Durbin. This bill failed to pass Congress because of principled opposition from senators like Jeff Sessions, who pointed out that this bill was so filled with loopholes that it would send illegal immigrants the message that the U.S. has “given up on enforcement of our immigration laws.” The DREAM Act really stood for “Deviously Replacing Enforcement with Amnesty” and that is the policy that has now been implemented by President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
But this is also another example of the contempt that the President has for the separation of powers embedded in our Constitution. Obama is functionally implementing the provisions of the DREAM Act by executive fiat despite the fact that the Act did not pass Congress and is not supported by the American people. His assigned duty under the Constitution is to enforce the laws passed by Congress – not to act as a super legislator who implements his own laws when a particular bill he supports fails to pass in Congress. More than a flagrant abuse of the doctrine of “prosecutorial discretion,’ it amounts to lawlessness.
It is also not an isolated incident. For example, it was revealed several months ago that the White House is considering issuing an executive order that would implement the same campaign finance disclosure provisions against government contractors contained in the DISCLOSE Act, another bill that failed to pass the Senate. With this White House, it seems the answer is always: heads I win, tails you lose.
What is most shocking about this action is that when the President spoke to the National Council of La Raza in July, he said that he could not go around Congress and implement immigration “reform” or grant an amnesty because “that’s not how our democracy functions.” Yet three weeks later that is essentially what he had done.
The President has an obligation to enforce the immigration laws passed by Congress. He does not have the authority to ignore a comprehensive federal law that he knows is constitutional. In fact, this new policy not only ignores the law, it puts the federal government in the position of helping individuals violate federal law and avoid the sanctions that Congress provided. The President has no authority to provide a general amnesty – yet he (and his administration) act as if they are the law.
This new policy strikes at a fundamental underpinning of our nation – the rule of law. It rewards illegality and lawbreakers, encourages even more aliens to enter the United States illegally, and comes at a time when President Obama has started his reelection campaign with such a low approval rating, that it is essential that he get a substantial majority of the Hispanic vote to serve a second term. It is another shameful instance of putting politics before the law.