When the president spoke to La Raza recently and said he couldn’t just go around Congress and enact an amnesty, the assembly started chanting, “Yes, you can! Yes, you can!“
Well, he did.
In an announcement I would have expected them to try to bury on a Friday afternoon instead of Thursday, the administration said it would review the cases of 300,000 illegal aliens already in removal proceedings — and not just let some of them go, but give them work authorization as well.
Many of those who will benefit from this administrative amnesty will be people who might have qualified for the DREAM Act amnesty which Congress has repeatedly rejected. In fact, this is the final piece of the Obama administration’s administrative amnesty, because in June the immigration service announced it would no longer arrest whole categories of illegal aliens — yesterday’s announcement is just a way of amnestying the ones that had already been arrested.
This is further proof, as if any is needed, that the administration is using the pretext of “prosecutorial discretion” as a tool of policy. In other words, any executive needs to exercise some discretion, because the law is a blunt instrument and requires those carrying it out to have some wiggle room to deal with the handful of highly unusual cases that might warrant it. But this administration is using this necessary, but limited tool as an instrument of policymaking, which can only be described as a lawless act.
When my colleague Jessica Vaughan testified before the House Judiciary Committee last month on Rep. Lamar Smith’s HALT Act, intended to prohibit the executive branch from exercising such discretion in immigration matters until January 2013, the Democrats on the panel dismissed the need for such legislation, saying the president would never abuse his authority and express his contempt for Congress in the way Smith feared. Oops!