Ready to Ignore the People

By Jan Ting November 2014

Philadelphia Inquirer, November 18, 2014

President Obama knows an executive immigration amnesty would be illegal and unconstitutional, but he's going to do it anyway.

The president says that since Congress refuses to enact a so-called immigration reform bill that he wants, he has no choice but to proceed unilaterally with an executive order providing amnesty to immigration-law violators.

But Obama has repeatedly and publicly acknowledged that for him to unilaterally issue an executive immigration amnesty would be illegal and unconstitutional. He's a lawyer who has taught constitutional law at a law school, but he's about to act lawlessly and unconstitutionally anyway.

Let's look at what he has said in the past:

March 28, 2011, interview with Univision: "With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that's just not the case. ... 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."

July 25, 2011, speech to La Raza: "Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. And believe me, right now dealing with Congress — believe me — believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. But that's not how — that's not how our system works. That's not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."

Sept. 28, 2011, Hispanic Roundtable at the White House: "I just have to continue to say this notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true. We are doing everything we can administratively. But the fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think there's been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the Dream Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It's just not true. ... We live in a democracy. You have to pass bills through the legislature, and then I can sign it."

June 16, 2013, interview with Univision: Question: If this bill failed on the House of Representatives, will you, can you actually use your executive power to legalize these 11 million people? Obama: "Probably not. I think that it is very important for us to recognize that the way to solve this problem has to be legislative."

November 25, 2013, Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center, San Francisco: "If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing them through Congress, I would do so. But we're also a nation of laws."

The American people spoke through the ballot box on November 4, defeating many of Obama's Democratic allies who had voted for his failed immigration amnesty bill, including Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Udall of Colorado, and Mark Begich of Alaska, with Mary Landrieu of Louisiana apparently headed for defeat in a runoff. Voters also replaced Democratic senators who voted for Obama's amnesty bill with new Republicans in Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Besides giving control of the U.S. Senate to Republicans, the people also expanded the GOP majority in the U.S. House by 12 seats.

An executive immigration amnesty would be a petulant and unconstitutional response to the election, one that simply ignores the will of the American people.