The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trusting Presidents on Immigration

Speaker Ryan writes: “The House of Representatives will not vote on comprehensive immigration legislation as long as President Obama is in office. And the reason is simple: The American people can’t trust him to uphold the law.” As the op-ed progresses, though, he widens the argument, saying that we should not pass “thousand-page bills” and can rebuild public trust only by taking “concrete action” on enforcement. If Ryan follows his thought, it should lead to the conclusion and the commitment that the House should not vote on comprehensive immigration legislation under the next president, either.

The public, as Ryan implies, has reasons for skepticism about enforcement that go beyond doubts about President Obama. Otherwise you wouldn’t need “concrete action”; you could just wait to pass a thousand-page bill in 2017. Immigration laws have not been well enforced by presidents with different characters and ideologies. And even under the most trustworthy of presidents, bureaucrats and courts could tie up enforcement of the immigration laws while a statutory amnesty was implemented. So don’t enact one.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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