Last week ended with a big bang as Obama announced that he would no longer enforce our immigration laws and will suspend deportations for many of those who came here illegally. What about the fact that Congress never vitiated those laws and, in fact, actually rejected the Dream Act? That’s just a minor problem for a man who thinks he can make laws without Congress.
But did Obama always believe he had the authority to end-run Congress and grant administrative amnesty?
Here’s what Obama had to say in March 2011 in front of a Hispanic audience:
MR. RAMOS: Mr. President, my question will be as follows: With an executive order, could you be able to stop deportations of the students? And if that’s so, that links to another of the questions that we have received through univision.com. We have received hundreds, thousand, all related to immigration and the students. Kay Tomar (ph) through univision.com told us — I’m reading — “What if at least you grant temporary protective status, TPS, to undocumented students? If the answer is yes, when? And if no, why not?”
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, temporary protective status historically has been used for special circumstances where you have immigrants to this country who are fleeing persecution in their countries, or there is some emergency situation in their native land that required them to come to the United States. So it would not be appropriate to use that just for a particular group that came here primarily, for example, because they were looking for economic opportunity.
With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed — and I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know that we’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.
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. [emphasis added]
At the time, Obama’s veracious statement seemed straightforward. After all, we do have three branches of government. But that was in 2011, which was not an election year. 2012 is an election year, and evidently, we have different constitutional laws regarding presidential powers. The president shall dictate or abrogate any law he sees fit to facilitate his reelection.
Most surprising of all though was Romney’s response to Obama’s egregious power grab. After waiting until half the day was over, Romney issued the following statement (via CNN):
“I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered, and should be solved on a long term basis so they know what their future would be in this country,” Romney said after a campaign stop in Milford, New Hampshire.
“I think the action that the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long term solution because an executive order is, of course, a short term matter and can be reversed by subsequent presidents,” Romney said.
“I would like to seek legislation that deals with this issue and I happen agree with Marco Rubio as he looked at, considered this issue, he said that this is an important matter that we have to find a long term solution,” Romney said. [emphasis added]
It took me a while to comprehend Romney’s remarks. What a non-sequitur! Obama implements a law that never passed Congress while disregarding the laws on the book, yet he complains that it’s only a short-term fix? After berating Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for supporting some form of the Dream Act, I never thought he would actually support it just a few months later. Nevertheless, that appears to be what he’s saying. In fact, he seems concerned that subsequent presidents may overturn the executive order. So, in fact, his only concern with Obama’s action is the fact that the amnesty might not be permanent.
But why should Romney be concerned about the tenuous nature of the amnesty? The only person who could overturn it is Romney himself – assuming he wins the presidency. On Sunday, Romney made it pretty clear that he doesn’t plan to overturn it, or he is too scared to state his intentions.
This is quite an evolution from just a few months ago when Romney said unequivocally on the campaign trail that he would veto the Dream Act if passed by Congress:
So during the primaries he promised to veto the Dream Act and beat the stuffing out of his opponents for expressing some limited support for it, even if passed through the proper constitutional process. Now he is declining to say whether he’d overturn an illegal form of administrative amnesty! And in fact, he made it clear to Bob Schieffer on Sunday that he would pass some form of the Dream Act.
We all know that there are good people on both sides of the issue within the conservative movement. I happen to agree with the original Mitt Romney who felt that amnesty would fleece taxpayers with higher education and welfare spending, while serving as a magnet for future waves of illegal immigration. Others believe that we need to grant amnesty just one more time.
Either way, it would be nice to have a choice in November between candidates who consistently stand by their convictions. This is what people find so repulsive about politics. Adult politicians with mature political philosophies undergo cathartic evolutions on major issues within a period of a few months.
We have another four and a half months until the election, an eternity in politics. There is no telling what will be written on each candidate’s etch a sketch when the music stops in November. Nonetheless, it is incontrovertibly clear that Obama’s slate will be ions worse than Romney’s – no matter how far he veers off the reservation. However, it is also clear that we need to elect principled conservatives to Congress who will present us with a slate of ideas sans the reset button.