Amnesty by decree

Amnesty by decree November 21, 2014

President Obama has issued an executive order protecting some 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation.

On what authority, you may ask?  He is invoking the principle of “prosecutor discretion,” under which a law enforcement officer may choose, for example, which speeders to chase down.  So here the Executive Branch, charged with carrying out the laws passed by the Legislative Branch, is just choosing not to enforce the law against illegal immigrants unless they have committed other crimes.  (But in forbidding immigration officials from enforcing the law, isn’t he taking away their “prosecutor discretion”?)

Read this from a liberal who is all in favor of immigration reform, but who worries about President Obama’s constitutionally questionable action.  So what happens, she asks, when we have a Republican president?  Will he be able to use “prosecutor discretion” to refrain from punishing people who refuse to buy health insurance under Obamacare?  Or to refrain from punishing violators of environmental laws?

Isn’t this, on the face of it, an unconstitutional usurpation of power?

Democrats that I’ve heard defending the action use arguments like, “Republican presidents have done the same kind of thing!”  Not on this scale, but still, that surely doesn’t make it right or constitutional.

The other argument is that the end justifies the means, that we really need immigration reform and Congress won’t pass it.  So the President is right to act.  But that begs the Constitutional question of whether the President has the authority to reject and replace a law.  Not only that but to do so when Congress has already expressly voted down the action he is taking.

The Supreme Court needs to come to the aid of the Republic.

From Obama to protect 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation | TheHill:

President Obama will unveil a set of sweeping executive actions that will extend work permits and protection from deportation to roughly 5 million immigrants in a primetime address Thursday night.

The president will also announce plans to shift enforcement efforts, ordering federal law enforcement officers to narrow their focus to those illegal immigrants with criminal records, gang affiliations, or ties to terrorism.

And Obama will expand the total number of high-tech visas that are available, as well as loosen restrictions so that more would-be entrepreneurs can travel legally to the United States to launch companies.

The president and other Cabinet and senior administration officials plan to “fan out” across the country over the coming weeks in order to promote the executive actions, according to one aide.

The moves are all aimed at “bringing some accountability to our broken immigration system,” a senior administration official said Thursday.

The biggest change to the immigration system will be a new program that allows the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to apply for work permits and deferred deportation.

An estimated 4 million parents will be eligible for the initiative. They are people who have been in the United States for at least five years and have no felony convictions but are currently in the country illegally.

The program is modeled on a similar initiative — known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA — that Obama launched in 2012 for immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

The administration is also expanding eligibility for the current deferred action program. Previously, those brought to the United States as children needed to have come to the United States before 2007, and to still be under 31 years of age, to apply for the new status. Now, any qualifying immigrant brought to the United States before 2010 as a child is eligible, opening the program up for at least a quarter million more people.

Those receiving deferred status will also now be protected for three years — not two, as was originally the case under the program. Administration officials say they expect the program to be fully implemented by spring.

Separately, the Department of Homeland Security will overhaul its handling of immigration enforcement, focusing efforts on “deporting felons, not families,” according to one official.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson will issue a new memorandum ordering immigration officials to focus their efforts on the removal of national security, border security, and public safety threats. The memo will also instruct those officials to classify those illegal immigrants who recently crossed the border as priorities for deportation.

“It makes sense if you’re the Department of Homeland Security to force your greatest attention on the people who are the greatest risk and you really want out of the country,” an official said.

The Department will also end its controversial Secure Communities program, which asks local law enforcement to hold illegal immigrants who are arrested beyond when they would normally be released, giving the federal government time to conduct a background check. Now, the government will still be notified, but those arrested will be freed according to a normal schedule — reducing concerns voiced by immigration activists.

The Obama Administration is also finalizing new rules that would allow the spouses of H-1B visa recipients to receive visas without being counted against the overall cap for high-tech skilled workers. And the administration will begin developing a new program for foreign entrepreneurs, who currently face tough restrictions immigrating to the United States unless they have a guaranteed income.

The president finalized his decisions to move forward with the set of executive actions this week after consultations with Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, according to White House officials.


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