Sometime over the course of the next week Barack Obama is likely going grant amnesty to millions of people who are in the United States illegally.
He’s doing this very much against the will of an overwhelming majority of American people. Not only do polls show that Americans are 3 to 1 against his giving amnesty to illegals, but his party, which very much supports his position, just got shellacked in voting booths across the country, at every level. Nonetheless, Barack Obama plans to do it anyway, because he feels he’s right… and because he can.
Technically he can’t really grant permanent amnesty because that would require the law to be changed. He’ll probably use his prosecutorial discretion to simply tell them that – at least while he’s president – they need not fear deportation. He’ll likely accomplish that by telling the DHS to basically look the other way and not deport those who are here illegally, depending on who they are, when they arrived, whether or not they have kids, etc. While as the chief executive of the government, he does indeed have the Constitutional power to tell agencies how they should act within the law, he does not have the power (legally) to tell them to close their eyes and arbitrarily ignore the law. Which is likely exactly what he’s going to do.
This action presents a variety of dilemmas. The first is the fact that Congress, not the President, writes the laws. (Although as demonstrated dozens of times with Obamacare, Barack Obama either doesn’t understand this or doesn’t care about it.) For Congress, there is only one Constitutional remedy available to them: Impeachment. When Obama grants Amnesty to 5 million people next week, he will almost certainly have committed an impeachable offense. This however is likely to be a bridge too far for most in Congress. The result will be that for the next two years millions of illegals will come out from the shadows, will buy houses, get jobs, get married and begin living their lives as if they were in the United States legally. Which brings up the second dilemma.
has already capitulated on the option of a government shutdown to address the president's overreach.
Theoretically Congress does have one other avenue available through which it can pursue a remedy: the courts. This however is a very iffy proposition. The federal court system is extraordinarily slow, and given that Congress has impeachment as an option, the likelihood of the Supreme Court getting involved is rather thin. In addition, a split decision on the case (unlike US v. Nixon) declaring the Executive Order illegal would simply cause Obama to reword it and issue another.
Most despairingly for those who value the Constitution and the nation, Obama’s amnesty will likely have the impact of opening the floodgates of immigrants from Latin America. Already the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are reported to believe that Joe Biden has laid out the welcome mat for their citizens seeking to emigrate to the United States. In 1986 Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to 2.5 million illegal aliens and the result was 20 million more crossing the border over the next three decades. In 2014, when Latin America is the home of 40 of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world – including the 18 top spots, how many millions will follow after Barack Obama’s amnesty next week?
Finally, the dilemmas are not reserved for the GOP. If Barack Obama is allowed to blatantly ignore the law and simply choose not to enforce it, what will the next president be free to do? What if a GOP president directs the IRS to not collect capital gains taxes or estate taxes? What if a GOP president directs HHS to stop direct deposit of welfare checks, forcing those on welfare to stand in line at a government office to pick up their checks? What if a GOP president decides to stop enforcing civil rights legislation that he thinks is outdated? If Democrats have no problem with Barack Obama rewriting Obamacare or immigration law to suit his own needs, they will be hard pressed to not be seen as hypocrites when a GOP president chooses to do the same when he targets their golden calves. At that point we cease to be a nation of laws and become a nation of men, the exact thing our Constitution was established to prevent.
The United States has survived as a representative democracy for 225 years because presidents understood that they were not kings. Even presidents who might have thought they were, such as Teddy Roosevelt and FDR, in the end demurred to the Constitution when the chips were down. Barack Obama on the other hand has decided that even in the face of a blistering defeat he is going to implement his policies, Constitution be dammed. Let’s hope the next part of the Constitution he decides to ignore isn’t the 22nd Amendment.