Obama oversteps on amnesty
Democracy is a messy business. It usually takes a long time to push through reforms. But the alternative to lawmaking is rule by decree.
That’s why President Obama was wrong to use an executive order to grant an effective two-year amnesty to 800,000 to 2.1 million illegal immigrants who were brought into the United States as children. For several years, Congress has been working on legislation, called the DREAM Act, to do something similar. We have supported these efforts.
The Constitution gives Congress the power to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization.” The executive branch, overseen by the president, only enforces what Congress decides.
Technically, what Obama did — halting deportations of and granting work permits to qualified illegal immigrants — was legal because the president can grant asylum to foreigners who can claim economic or other hardship, said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute.
“But the problem here is atmospherics,” he said. “Congress specifically has rejected the DREAM Act. The president then went ahead and showed contempt for the separation of powers.”
The Founders gave those in Congress exclusive power to make laws because they are in closer touch with the people. It’s fairly easy to meet your local member of Congress at a town hall but almost impossible to meet the president.
Congress is considering many other factors the president is ignoring with his decree. The economy is shaky, and unemployment remains high. By contrast, when Ronald Reagan signed the most recent amnesty law in 1986, the economy had been humming for years. Reagan’s policies of tax cuts, stable money and spending restraints were roughly the opposite of Obama’s.
Another factor is the fast-approaching November election. Obama obviously is appealing to Latinos, many of whose relatives will enjoy the amnesty and who vote in battleground states such as Florida, Colorado and Arizona. That’s another reason Congress should be involved: Action would have to be bipartisan.
Certainly, any amnesty bill likely would have to wait until after the election. But that’s how democracy works.
Reprinted from the Northwest Florida Daily News