The Corner

Laws Emanate from the White House Now

Obama’s speech announcing his immigration diktat was the usual pabulum: “our immigration system is broken,” can’t let illegals “remain in the shadows,” “commonsense middle-ground approach,” blah, blah, blah. ​If I didn’t have to go on TV right afterwards, I would have played a drinking game.

But the speech was notable for some of the things Obama didn’t mention. For instance, he lied about what his non-amnesty amnesty consisted of: “All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.” As polling has suggested, this is less likely to provoke opposition than the truth: “All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you — and also, here’s a work permit, a Social Security number, and a driver’s license.”

He didn’t mention that his scheme will pull the plug on the Secure Communities program. The program checks the fingerprints of arrested criminal suspects against DHS records at the same time as they’re checked against FBI records. It is the lowest-common-denominator of immigration enforcement — if you oppose Secure Communities, you oppose immigration enforcement. But the anti-borders activist groups around the country do, in fact, oppose immigration controls of any kind, and reject the notion that illegal aliens who are arrested for drunk driving, assaulting police offices, beating their wives, and so on, should be subject to deportation. And Obama is one of them — but he has enough political sense not to mention that on national television.

Another part of his edict that wasn’t mentioned was the extension of the validity of the “temporary” grant of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) from two years to three, eliminating the upper age limit to qualify, and extending it to those who entered before age 18 instead of the previous 16. These are details, for sure, but they highlight an important truth — he just set these parameters two years ago in an earlier edict and now he’s changing them. Why? Because he feels like it. These changes highlight the ad hoc nature of Obama’s lawmaking and point to the virtual certainty that any restrictions or limitations that may be included in the current directive can, and will, be changed whenever it’s politically convenient. He says you have to have arrived by 2010 to get this new amnesty? Well, he’ll just change it to 2013 next week. Didn’t include the parents of DACAs in this round of executive lawmaking? Maybe he’ll announce that in March.

None of the criteria Obama has laid out to qualify for amnesty benefits has any basis in law or even logic — they’re simply the result of political give and take, i.e., legislation. It’s just that instead of the people’s elected representatives debating and compromising and finally approving a measure, it is Obama’s staff that debates and compromises and finally approves something. Because Congress is now an advisory body with some residual powers, like the British House of Lords. Real law emanates from the White House.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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