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The President is Treading on Very Dangerous Ground

Obama speaks on immigration

Imagine a tree growing close to a windy shoreline. The wind usually blows inland from the water. Over time the tree bends from the constant wind pressure. So it is with immigration enforcement. Government agencies that wrongly refuse admission rightly face instant legal challenges; these are compounded by a range of periodic class actions lawsuits brought by groups with an agenda – groups like the ACLU – whose goal is to wear down the bureaucracy. The tree bends and over time immigration enforcement weakens.

What if, in the face of such constant pressure the Executive Branch simply refuses to enforce the law and keep aliens without right from entering the country – by the millions? At FAIR we feared this day might come. We feared, in particular, that in the hands of an unscrupulous politician, this vulnerability might even be encouraged and exploited for partisan gain. Please know that over the decades FAIR has tried to get court after court to consider this problem – the issue of “legal standing” makes it impossible for the public to challenge the illegal admission of illegal aliens. In cases involving the U.S. Census and the use of parole power and Cuban entrants, FAIR has sued. In these actions, FAIR demonstrated through affidavits and research that sustained and uncontrolled immigration would undermine the quality of life for Americans in the affected counties. We felt we had demonstrated the requisite “injury” in these matters. Still courts would not allow our plaintiffs – including members of Congress – through the courthouse door.

Whether the president or his delegates admit the aliens through limitless parole or they grant an invented status to those who’ve already entered illegally, we have one of two results. Either we have an imperial, Caesarian president who ignores the commands of Congress and the people, or we have a nation no longer able to manage its frontiers.

The president’s backers claim that “deferred action,” though not in the law, lets the president take over immigration and give illegal aliens unlimited work authorization and other documents. Naturally, they also claim that “deferred action” – a formal creation of Clinton appointee Doris Meissner (only secretly used at the old Immigration and Naturalization Service on a rare and unpublicized basis) – means the president can use his personal will to allow entire classes of aliens to remain indefinitely (or until Congress passes an amnesty). No one can credibly claim Congress ever intended this – in fact, every time Congress has acted since 1996 it has tried to reign in the president’s immigration parole power. Why would Congress let any president allow in unlimited numbers of illegal aliens?

What about the claim that “prosecutorial discretion” applies? Firstly, the term doesn’t appear anywhere in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Meissner (the “mastermind” behind much of today’s immigration breakdown) claims that so long as the administration does it on a “case by case basis,” it’s okay. Others also claim it is based solely on the need to “rationalize enforcement priorities and resources,” as if that’s the true motivation. How many times has this administration made the pitch to Congress and the American people that they need more resources to step up interior enforcement? Never. I suppose you can call the program anything you like, but the fact is the president plans to do this, not on a case-by-case basis, but on a class-based basis, as he did with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Class-based relief of this sort is illegal and, obviously, not contemplated by Congress.

The second problem is that they also claim “no one believes the U.S. is going to round up and deport X million illegal aliens.” Their only alternative is to let everyone stay. We hear this all the time. If that’s true, then it must mean the U.S. can no longer control its frontiers.

The future is not kind to nations unable to regulate frontiers. Criminals and those hostile to our interests are already admitted without regard to the law. Sadly, the implications of this breakdown are not apparent to most on the left and unacknowledged by the Wall Street crowd. It has just begun to dawn on a few stalwart administration supporters that the president’s unilateralism is precedent-setting in dangerous ways. See this recent and unexpected editorial in The Washington Post.

We all should stand on principle, and not allow partisan gamesmanship to set an unwise precedent. Just because a court will not step in to stop an illegal action is not a reason to violate the oath of office. To take away from the American people the right to decide who may enter and who may stay – to invite an impeachment threat for electoral and fundraising advantage without regard to the substance of the policy that might engender that threat – this is a bridge too far for the nation. Our future is ominous, the people are becoming uneasy. A large segment of the American public will fiercely resist any unilateral action by President Obama and there is the chance that unrest will result – unless this president understands his role and the limits of his office. Be forewarned.

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