A rev­o­lu­tion by an­other name

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - Opin­ion by Wes­ley Pru­den

Are­vised Dream Act, which could have dealt in an or­derly way with the chil­dren of il­le­gal aliens in our midst, is dead. Barack Obama couldn’t wait to get the corpse out of the par­lor.

The pres­i­dent’s re­mark­able amnesty by fiat — an amnesty that dare not speak its name — has the im­me­di­ate ef­fect of giv­ing a per­ma­nent tem­po­rary pass to 800,000 of th­ese chil­dren of il­le­gals. But there’s more to this mercy than the ca­sual eye sees.

This amnesty de­fers un­til af­ter the elec­tion, and prob­a­bly for good, com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form of the sort en­vi­sioned by Sen. Marco Ru­bio. The Florida Repub­li­can had of­fered a re­vi­sion of the Dream Act that would have helped some chil­dren of aliens who en­roll in col­lege or join one of the mil­i­tary ser­vices.

Mr. Ru­bio has all but given up. “Peo­ple are go­ing to say to me, ‘Why are we go­ing to need to do any­thing on this now?’ It has been dealt with. We can wait un­til af­ter the elec­tion. And it is go­ing to be hard to ar­gue with that.”

This is ex­actly the re­sult that Pres­i­dent Obama and the open-bor­ders Democrats en­vi­sioned. The pres­i­dent prefers not to con­sult with Congress, which is messy, like democ­racy it­self, and con­gress­men oc­ca­sion­ally ask ques­tions that in- ter­rupt the mes­sianic or­a­tory. Care­ful com­pre­hen­sive re­form would have meant shar­ing the credit and the grat­i­tude; this way Mr. Obama gets all the credit and, by mak­ing it seem “tem­po­rary,” he can keep the kids and their par­ents un­easy about their fu­ture. Keep­ing the peas­ants un­easy about the fu­ture, ex­tend­ing suf­fer­ing and ra­tioning the as­pirin, is the old­est trick in the politi­cian’s play­book.

But there was even more method in the pres­i­dent’s mad­ness. By spring­ing this re­mark­able ex­pan­sion of pres­i­den­tial pre­rog­a­tive now, he can test con­gres­sional con­cern for the Con­sti­tu­tion and courage to do any­thing about it, how­ever revo­lu­tion­ary the da­m­age in­flicted. An ear­lier pres­i­dent at­tempt­ing to by­pass Congress and en­force only the laws he likes would have pro­voked Congress, Democrats and Repub­li­cans alike, to stand up on its hind legs and roar de­fi­ance and ret­ri­bu­tion. Alas, those hind legs of Congress have with­ered, re­placed by lit­tle la­dy­like nub­bins.

Mr. Obama knows bet­ter, and said so only two years ago in an­swer to Demo­cratic pres­sure for a pres­i­den- tial de­cree of amnesty: “I just have to con­tinue to say this no­tion that some­how I can just change the laws uni­lat­er­ally is just not true,” he said. “But the fact of the mat­ter is there are laws on the books that I have to en­force. And I think there’s been a great dis­ser­vice done to the cause of get­ting the Dream Act passed and get­ting com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion passed by per­pe­trat­ing the no­tion that some­how, by my­self, I can go and do th­ese things. It’s just not true.”

Only now he has proved that he can in fact “go and do,” and he can con­tinue to raid the law books in ways the men who wrote the Con­sti­tu­tion never imag­ined a pres­i­dent could “go and do.” Two years ago, the Depart­ment of Home­land Security — which seems to imag­ine it­self the Depart­ment of das Fa­ther­land Security — set out in sev­eral mem­o­randa, en­ti­tled “Ad­min­is­tra­tive Al­ter­na­tives to Com­pre­hen­sive Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form,” just how the pres­i­dent should go about stiff­ing Congress. This was the road map the pres­i­dent used to do what he said he couldn’t do.

There’s more com­ing, as Mitt Rom­ney breathes closer down his neck and pres­sure from the left tight­ens. Mr. Obama can de­cree asy­lum, which is not tem­po­rary, to ever-ex­pand­ing cat­e­gories of asy­lum seek­ers. Asy­lum is granted now to those per­se­cuted, or in “fear” of per­se­cu­tion, “on ac­count of race, re­li­gion, na­tion­al­ity [or] mem­ber­ship in a par­tic­u­lar so­cial group or po­lit­i­cal opin­ion.” This could in­clude just ev­ery­body, as Mark Kriko­rian, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, ob­serves in Na­tional Re­view On­line. Asy­lum al­ready in­cludes women seek­ing refuge from bru­tal so­ci­eties, ho­mo­sex­u­als and the hand­i­capped, and it re­quires lit­tle imag­i­na­tion to ex­pand th­ese cat­e­gories to in­clude res­i­dents of Mex­ico and Cen­tral Amer­ica who fear gun­men of the drug car­tels.

Only the heart­less want to see the in­no­cents, like the chil­dren brought here by their law-break­ing par­ents, sent back to a prim­i­tive so­ci­ety and cul­ture they never knew. But al­low­ing a pres­i­dent to make pol­icy based on what he needs to win an elec­tion, with­out con­sul­ta­tion with any­one but his cam­paign han­dlers, is a heart­less dis­re­gard of the rule of law we have al­ways held high as the stan­dard that makes Amer­ica spe­cial.

Wes­ley Pru­den is edi­tor emer­i­tus of The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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