Ad Hominem Arguments and Non-Sequiturs Litter the President's Immigration Address

By Dan Cadman on November 20, 2014

I just finished watching the president speaking about the executive order he will sign tomorrow allowing millions of illegal aliens to live and work in the United States for the next couple of years.

It is a marvel to me that a man who must be contemplating the legacy of his eight years in office has opted for the “constitutional crisis” menu item from among the choices he might select. Because that is what he has instigated by his decision to “go it alone” on immigration, because in doing so he is not only engaging in broad-based statutory nullification of the federal immigration laws, but also clearly usurping the lawmaking authority assigned exclusively to the Congress by Article I of our Constitution.

I was also struck by his insistence that he must do this because the “Republican leaders in the House” failed to adopt the disingenuous Gang-of-Eight amnesty bill that the Senate attempted to jam down their throats—completely overlooking by this defamatory and ad hominem attack the fact that the stars were in alignment for a considerable period of time in 2009 and 2010, when the executive branch and both houses of Congress were ruled by Democrats, and yet they opted not to bring a bill—any bill—forward to deal with immigration reform.

Then there was the curious lead-in to the subject of his remarks: “Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their wages good wages benefits [sic] see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America.”

Yes, he’s right, we do take offense at that, and for good reason. And yet, those words were his segue into the announcement that he is, for all intents and purposes, granting amnesty, albeit for a finite period of time, and subject to renewals, to vast numbers of illegal aliens. Looks like a pretty big non-sequitur to me, to leap from talking about the expectation of consequences for breaking the law and jumping the line, into rewarding the millions who have done so.

Another non-sequitur in his speech that leaped out at me was this one: “We expect those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America more than five years. If you have children who are American citizens or legal residents. If you register, pass a criminal background check and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes, you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation.”

Well, that sure looks to me like people are being unfairly rewarded for breaking the law simply because they’ve had the good fortune not to get caught for five years—a five years during which his administration has so crippled effective immigration enforcement that the government’s own cadre of immigration agents sued to be permitted to do their jobs, and one of the directors of his interior immigration enforcement agency declared publicly that “If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero…”

Then there’s this notion of the president’s that having U.S. citizen children should somehow shield illegal aliens from removal. It’s interesting that Congress already dealt with that issue in the context of the immigration statutes. Citizens can indeed file petitions to bring their parents and other immediate family members to the United States legally, and without being subject to a visa quota, meaning they can pretty much obtain their papers as quickly as they are processed—but only when the petitioning citizen has reached the age of 21.

There are sound reasons for that. If there weren’t such an age limitation, we'd have the absurd situation of parents coming to the U.S. for the sole purpose of giving birth to a baby, and then, as the baby's legal guardians, filing a petition for themselves. Congress recognized the importance of at least minimizing, if not downright halting, reprehensible practices such as “baby mills” whose sole purpose is to cater to pregnant women wishing to come to the U.S. as “tourists” for the sole reason of giving birth to a citizen child.

Congress also recognized that the age limitation also inhibits, at least to some degree, pregnant women making the treacherous trek northward from Central America or Mexico, and putting themselves into the hands of smugglers so that they can pin their hopes on staying by means of that U.S. citizen child, when born. But the president, through his executive order, is going to encourage many women to do exactly that, which, in my opinion, approaches irresponsible immorality. He may say that henceforward, arrivals will be dealt with and returned swiftly, but there is no reason—no reason at all—for anyone to believe that. Certainly that wasn’t the case with the recent surge of tens of thousands into the Rio Grande Valley.

All his executive order is going to do is to push the “reset” button for the next flows to come, and hope also to hide in the shadows for five years with “zero chance” of removal. Maybe their turn will come next.