Did President Obama violate the Constitution by his recent executive order?
Obama’s move to change the laws that make employing illegal immigrants lawful is an overreach of his authority. The president’s order, strategically made on Mexico’s Revolution Day, is not only unconstitutional under Article II of the Constitution, but also is purely political. And he knows it. (Let’s try to ignore the message the president may be sending to those in Mexico who may read this as an invitation to a revolution. The president is after all a community organizer.)
The executive order allows, among other things, that workers who have been in the country for at least five years can now come out of the shadows without the fear of deportation and receive a worker’s permit and remain in the U.S. temporarily. It is estimated that this will apply to at least 5 million who are currently in the country illegally. Now how is an illegal immigrant supposed to prove they have been in the country for five years exactly? (It should be noted this is not the first time the president suspended deportations. He did the same thing in 2012 for illegal immigrants under 30 years old who had been in the U.S. since they were 16 and have lived in the US for at least 5 years. He made them eligible for deferred action, which amounts to a suspension of deportation, benefiting nearly 800,000 illegal immigrant youth.) To most honest commentators, it is clear this recent move is an invitation for a mad dash to the U.S. border (as it was in 1986), the likes of which we have not seen.
However, the heart of this discussion is not about the political fight that will surely come with opponents of the president’s action. The heart of this affair is how should the greatest and wealthiest nation known to man balance the needs of humanity where more are in poverty around the world than ever before against the Constitution and laws of the United States? This is an opportunity to promote the Judeo-Christian values we stand for.
One of the past iterations of the ever-changing President Obama said it best in an interview last year. “The problem is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.” When specifically asked why he had yet to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, he said, “I can’t do these things just by myself.” “I’m not a king,” he said. Well he just crowned himself, it seems.
The president and his party should be reminded of the laws on the books he swore an oath to uphold. In 1986, under President Ronald Reagan, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act) gave amnesty to 2.7 million illegal aliens who could prove they had resided illegally in the United States continuously since at least January 1, 1982; and who had worked as agricultural workers for at least 90 days between May 1, 1985 and May 1, 1986. Borne out of a tortured compromise between Congress and the White House, the Act contemplated reinforced border control and status verification for those applying for welfare benefits. The success of this Act has been rightly criticized because the border security measures were never put in place.
What a majority of Americans want first, Mr. President, is for you to enforce the laws on the books. That means securing our borders as was promised the American people in 1986. Once that is done, the hearts of the American people will turn to how to respond with dignity to those here illegally. First we must approach this in a practical way and not in a way that invites millions more into our country to await the next wave of amnesty before securing the borders. Policymakers are duping the American people. They have not secured the borders because they perceive a political benefit on both sides; they hurt all Americans in this way who must now compete against lower wage earners.
Once this recent executive order is declared unconstitutional or after Congress acts to defund any such effort made by the president, we can get down to the business of securing our borders first and living out the command to “love the foreigner” second.