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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Obama's Immigration Ploy Incompetent And Unconstitutional

Image: Obama's Immigration Ploy Both Incompetent And Unconstitutional
(Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

By John Fund and Clara Del Villar

It turns out President Barack Obama was right the first time when, in 2012, he explained why he could not change immigration law on his own: "There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president."

A federal appeals court has refused to lift an injunction against Obama’s executive action of last year, which ruled out deporting some four million undocumented people now in the U.S. and created a path for them to win legal status. Texas and 25 other states sued to halt what they called an effective "amnesty," saying the policy didn’t come with the usual public notice and comment period and unconstitutionally forced them to bear new costs in having to issue drivers licenses and other social services such as healthcare and education.

President Obama is now likely going to have to wait until mid-2017 before the Supreme Court delivers a final opinion — and one that many legal experts believe will go against him.

Hispanics and members of other immigrant groups have a right to be angry with Obama. First, he failed to tackle immigration in 2009 and 2010 when his party had overwhelming control of Congress. Then he allowed the problem to fester for several years, chose not to compromise with House Republicans and pass modest reforms first as a confidence-building measure, and then sprang his surprise executive action with almost no consultation.

Obama appears either to have been in search of temporary plaudits and glory as an immigration "liberator" or someone who was pressured into acting against the better judgment of legal experts by Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a unabashed advocate of full amnesty.

Make no mistake. Obama and Democrats will try to shift the blame for the apparent failure of the immigration action to Republicans. Obama adviser Steven Rattner told MSNBC the morning after the court decision: "Look, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel has two Republicans and one Democrat—what was the ruling? Two to one."

Rep. Gutierrez will also hit back hard since his credibility is at stake. He was touring the country for years telling Hispanics they should get ready for a unilateral presidential action. He had thousands of undocumented people "sign up" for information on the president's action plan, and urged them to gather documents to establish a legal basis for their presence in the U.S.

Republicans wound up having zero trust in President Obama’s ability to carry out any agreement on immigration. Now millions of undocumented people need to be told that the president also was incompetent in how he chose to get around the GOP — with a half-baked, slapped-together executive action that looks doomed in the courts. 

The Obama administration played a cruel trick on Hispanics by promising false hope for reform through an end run around our legal system. 

Republicans need to point out where the real blame for the failure of an immigration agreement lies, while making clear they stand ready to pass incremental reforms that address our border, a dysfunctional visa system and an outdated, bloated bureaucracy. It is also crucial to note we gain nothing by circumventing our legal system. 

Of course, it’s President Obama who has refused to support any reforms short of a "comprehensive" solution.

That leaves us in the policy and legal mess we have today.


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