A colleague offered a corrective to my earlier posting speculating that the president picked Jeh Johnson for DHS secretary so he could shepherd amnesty through Congress. She thinks it more likely Johnson’s job will be to usher amnesty through the agency by means of executive fiat, not through Congress — just as he did in the Pentagon with lifting the gay ban. I think she’s probably right, and that suggests the White House has already concluded that amnesty is dead in Congress, and is planning how best to legalize as many illegals as possible administratively. I think a sweeping order amnestying all illegals would be too risky, almost certainly prompting (justified) calls for impeachment.
But Johnson’s job, assuming this scenario is correct, would be to identify specific groups of illegal aliens to amnesty by fiat, as Obama has already done with some half-million illegals who came here (or claimed to have come here) before age 16, the so-called Dreamers. These additional groups could include the parents of Dreamers, the non-qualifying siblings of Dreamers, any illegal with U.S.-born children, any illegal over, say, 65, and so on. That approach could end up legalizing the majority of illegal aliens, but piecemeal, though obscure DHS memos, thus less likely to spark a political backlash. And this wouldn’t be a mere deferral of deportation, like a cop choosing not to write you a speeding ticket; the “deferred action” amnesty that’s been granted to the Dreamers includes a work card, a (legitimate) Social Security account, a driver’s license in most states, eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and affirmative-action preferences, and the right to travel outside the U.S. and return — truly, all the amnesty most people would ever need.