Bor­der­ing on law­less­ness

Obama is de­ter­mined to re­write by him­self the na­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion laws

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The Con­sti­tu­tion mat­ters. The much­abused doc­u­ment on which the repub­lic stands has been res­cued from the trash bin where Pres­i­dent Obama threw it, and still stands be­tween the gov­ern­ment and his “pro­gres­sive” goal of us­ing a flood of il­le­gal im­mi­grants to build a per­ma­nent “pro­gres­sive” ma­jor­ity. The re­prieve is wel­come but Mr. Obama has not learned much.

The U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the 5th Cir­cuit ruled Mon­day that Mr. Obama ex­ceeded his author­ity when he is­sued an ex­ec­u­tive or­der a year ago grant­ing tem­po­rary amnesty to 5 mil­lion il­le­gal im­mi­grants in the United States. By or­der­ing the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity to sup­ply the il­le­gals with work per­mits and im­mu­nity from de­por­ta­tion, the court con­cluded that the pres­i­dent ef­fec­tively rewrote the na­tion’s Im­mi­gra­tion and Na­tion­al­ity Act. The pres­i­dent has no author­ity to do that. Making laws is the job of Congress. The Con­sti­tu­tion says so.

The court used Mr. Obama’s own words to re­buke him. When a critic once told the pres­i­dent that the im­mi­gra­tion law is very clear, the pres­i­dent said “what you are not pay­ing at­ten­tion to is the fact that I just took an ac­tion to change the law.” In his opin­ion for the 2-1 ma­jor­ity, Judge Jerry E. Smith wrote: “At oral ar­gu­ment, and de­spite be­ing given sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties, the at­tor­ney for the United States was un­able to rec­on­cile that re­mark with the po­si­tion that the [Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion] now takes.”

Mr. Obama’s at­tempt to usurp con­gres­sional author­ity to reg­u­late im­mi­gra­tion was the act of an au­to­crat, not a demo­crat. Mr. Obama wants to block the de­por­ta­tion of young adults who ar­rived in the United States as chil­dren, and he seeks to ex­pand the cri­te­ria for amnesty to in­clude il­le­gal im­mi­grant par­ents whose chil­dren were born on Amer­i­can soil, and are cit­i­zens by birthright. Texas and 25 other states sued on the grounds that while the pres­i­dent is en­ti­tled to ad­min­is­tra­tive lee­way, such a sweep­ing mea­sure in­volv­ing as many as 5 mil­lion per­sons would cause grave fi­nan­cial hard­ship for the states. Gov. Greg Ab­bott of Texas hailed the court’s de­ci­sion: “Do we have a rule of law or do we not? The ap­peals court said that even the pres­i­dent is sub­ject to the rule of law.”

But when one door closes on Mr. Obama’s at­tempt to cir­cum­vent the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers as set out in the Con­sti­tu­tion, he tries to open an­other. The Jus­tice Depart­ment said it would ap­peal the ap­peals court de­ci­sion to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the court is likely to take the ap­peal. A fi­nal de­ci­sion could be ren­dered just in time for Mr. Obama’s farewell.

The pres­i­dent clearly has big plans for re­mak­ing Amer­ica. He is said to be con­sid­er­ing ap­point­ment of Heather Fong, the for­mer sher­iff of San Francisco County and a staunch sup­porter of the sanc­tu­ary cities move­ment, as chief of the U.S. Border Pa­trol. The blan­ket amnesty that Mr. Obama wants has been put on hold by the courts, but he in­tends to use ev­ery ar­ti­fice his lawyers can in­vent. Putting Miss Fong in charge of en­forc­ing the law on the border fur­ther demon­strates his con­tempt for laws he doesn’t like.

Harry S. Tru­man put a slo­gan on his desk in the Oval Of­fice declar­ing that “The buck stops here.” Barack Obama will be re­mem­bered for a mes­sage of his own: “Laws are made for me to break.”

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