Let There Be Amnesty!
The Plan B of the open-borders crowd would dispense with the Constitution.


Mark Krikorian

And so was born Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. While the name implies nothing but a postponement of enforcement, the program, announced in June of 2012 and initiated in August, provides de facto permanent amnesty for illegal aliens who came before their 16th birthday. Far from being simply a matter of immigration agents’ looking the other way, this “deferred action” status provides a work card, a (legitimate) Social Security number, a driver’s license, travel documents allowing the holder to leave and return to the U.S., and eligibility for affirmative-action benefits, the Earned Income Tax Credit (a form of welfare run through the IRS), and many state and local welfare benefits.

Nor is there anything temporary about it. The program is modeled after something called Temporary Protected Status, which provides the above-mentioned benefits to illegal aliens who don’t qualify as refugees but whom we don’t want to deport because of natural disaster or civil strife back home. TPS’s raft of deadlines and registration requirements might suggest that it’s really just a short-term fix, a hiatus that is followed by renewed enforcement. To borrow from James Taranto’s tweets, HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!

As you might have guessed, no one has ever been sent home because his “temporary” protected status expired. No one. Liberian illegal aliens were granted TPS in 1991 because of civil war back home, and it was renewed for 16 years. Then the Bush administration discontinued the status in 2007 (the war having ended four years earlier), only to turn around and grant them “Deferred Enforced Departure,” which is the same thing under a different bureaucratic label.

In short, the 500,000 illegal aliens who have been amnestied under Obama’s “deferred action” decree are never, ever going to leave. Their amnesty is permanent and irrevocable.

So, might we expect another amnesty “big bang” if the normal workings of the legislative branch fail to yield the result Obama demands? It’s unlikely that the administration would simply launch “a larger registration program that reaches the entire legalization population,” in the words of the February 2010 memo. Such brazen defiance of the constitutional order could risk impeachment.

But including other groups, incrementally, in the Deferred Action amnesty is a less audacious way of achieving the same unconstitutional objective. Peacock, the former DHS official, suggests in his L.A. Times piece that Obama could unilaterally amnesty “those with a longtime presence in the United States or those with U.S.-citizen family members.” National Journal’s Johnson is more specific in listing candidates for the next administrative amnesty: “parents of ‘Dreamers’ or parents of children who are citizens because they were born here, people who are employed, people who are caregivers, and so on.”

Another means of accomplishing the same thing would be to grant Temporary Protected Status to all Mexican and Central American illegal aliens (some 80 percent of the total), based on unstable conditions in their countries. Alternatively, the administration might send the message that any illegal alien applying for asylum will be approved, waiving the statutory one-year deadline after arrival to file such applications. This last is suggested by this week’s release of nine DREAMer illegal aliens who left the country and then demanded reentry as a publicity stunt. They were released from detention Wednesday to pursue their (manifestly unfounded) claims for asylum.

Whatever the pretext, the supporters of amnesty are clearly moving toward support for extra-constitutional measures if, in the words of the National Journal piece, “Congress can’t get the job done.” The implicit suggestion is that, with regard to immigration, the nation is in a state of emergency that justifies the chief executive to rule by decree. If Congress permits such policies to pass without opposition, the consequences will resonate far beyond today’s immigration debate.

— Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.