The Corner

Media Criticism of Potential Executive Action on Immigration Grows

Throughout the summer, numerous voices across the political spectrum have warned against President Obama taking sweeping executive action on immigration. While the New York Times editorial board has endorsed executive supremacy on immigration, many other publications have been more skeptical, fearing the constitutional as well as immediate practical implications of the president going alone on immigration policy. The Washington Post argued earlier in August that Congressional resistance “doesn’t grant the president license to tear up the Constitution” and warned against ramming through immigration reform via an executive order, points echoed by Charles Lane and Jonathan Chait (neither of whom are exactly fire-breathing right-wingers).

That drumbeat of criticism has continued. The Chicago Tribune recently warned the president not to issue an executive fiat on immigration. Earlier this week, USA Today’s editorial board declared that “Congressional action is necessary both as a sign of a functioning democracy and as a lesson for lawmakers that they can’t ignore their responsibilities forever.” The editorial found that “Congress is the only appropriate venue for adopting such sweeping changes in [immigration] policy.” The editorial board seemed to express support for the goal of “comprehensive immigration reform” but argued that the president could not ram it through by himself.

A recent editorial in the Arizona Republic also slammed the president’s proposed unilateral action on immigration. Like USA Today, the Arizona Republic is sympathetic to immigration “reform,” but it also finds that such action could exceed President Obama’s constitutional authority:

The Arizona Republic has led the way now for many years in passionately arguing for comprehensive immigration reform. No one wants these decent, hard-working people to live free as card-carrying Americans more than we do.

But not this way. This way is folly, Mr. President. Yes, Congress’ failure to act is frustrating. But if Obama takes these actions on his own, it would constitute a higher order of failure.

One of the key points made by the Arizona Republic is that executive action on immigration reform could radically damage the chances of passing immigration reform in future Congresses. Marco Rubio made a similar point in an open letter to President Obama, arguing that unilateral action on immigration could “close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future.” Senator Rubio was one of the leading figures in getting the Gang of Eight bill through the Senate, so his devotion to “comprehensive immigration reform” cannot be doubted (whether that vision of “reform” is good for the American worker and new immigrants might be a bit more up for debate).

The constitutional implications of President Obama making a power grab on immigration are serious. The humanitarian consequences of such a power grab — how it might empower human traffickers, exploitative employers, and the criminal underworld through incentivizing more illegal immigration — as well as its risks for national security and for the wages of the American worker are also worth noting, however. Moreover, in terms of immigration policy, more and more figures on the Left, Right, and center are finding that sweeping executive action now could kill all hopes of passing immigration reform legislatively.

If the president is serious about advancing a long-term legislative solution to some of the shortcomings of the U.S. immigration system, it would not make much sense to polarize the immigration debate further by taking unilateral action. The White House might calculate that escalating polarization could render some short-term political dividends, but, as an increasing number in the media have come to realize, those dividends might come at the expense of the rest of the nation, our Constitutional inheritance, and the future of sustainable immigration reform.

Fred Bauer — Fred Bauer is a writer from New England. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including The Weekly Standard and The Daily Caller. He also blogs at ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Broward’s Cowards

It is impossible to imagine circumstances under which Broward County sheriff Scott Israel could attempt to perform his duties with the confidence of the public. He should resign immediately, and if, as he promises, he refuses to go quietly, then he should be shown the door by the people he professes to ... Read More
Culture

Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More
Immigration

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

CNN’s Shameful Town Hall

CNN recently hosted an anti-gun town hall featuring a number of grieving children and parents from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who aimed their ire at the National Rifle Association, politicians peripherally associated with the NRA, and anyone who didn’t say exactly what they wanted to hear. ... Read More
U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More