Bench Memos

Obama’s Immigration Abuses

There have been a lot of excellent legal critiques of President Obama’s recently announced executive actions on immigration and of the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that the White House solicited. I will heartily recommend for your reading this NRO essay by Shannen Coffin and Michael Edney and this Wall Street Journal op-ed by David Rivkin and Elizabeth Price Foley. On the important broader distinction between legalistic constitutionalism and political constitutionalism, I’d also encourage you to read my Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague Yuval Levin’s take from the Corner.

But, as usual with this Administration, things are even worse than they first appear. According to this article in today’s Washington Post, many of the millions of illegal immigrants who would be protected from deportation under Obama’s actions would be eligible to receive Social Security, Medicare, and other federal benefits under the theory that they are “lawfully present in the United States.” But his theory would appear to contradict the reasoning of the OLC opinion, which repeatedly emphasizes that the proposed deferred-action programs would not alter the fact that the covered immigrants are unlawfully present in the United States:

[T]hese proposed deferred action programs would not ‘legalize’ any aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States.” [p. 2]

Deferred action does not confer any lawful immigration status. [p. 2]

Deferred action … expressly communicat[es] to the alien that his or her unlawful presence will be tolerated for a prescribed period of time. [pp. 20-21 (emphasis added)]

The contradictions between Obama’s legislative-style programs (“I just took an action to change the law,” he boasted yesterday) and his imposition of them by unilateral executive fiat will continue to compound.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Pelosi’s House of Pain

Not so long ago — as recently as the cover of the March 2019 Rolling Stone, in fact — they seemed like the best of friends. I'm referring to Nancy Pelosi and the members of "The Squad": Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and (not pictured) Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. They shared some good ... Read More

Gender Dissenter Gets Fired

Allan M. Josephson is a distinguished psychiatrist who, since 2003, has transformed the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology at the University of Louisville from a struggling department to a nationally acclaimed program. In the fall of 2017 he appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation ... Read More
Film & TV

How Seinfeld Mastered the Comedy Domain

I can’t say whether Larry Charles, Larry David, Alec Berg, Spike Feresten, and the rest of the brilliant writers of Seinfeld were students of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but they might as well have been. Fitzgerald supplied the best advice for sitcom writers: Start with an individual, and before you know it you find ... Read More