In the United States, the saying goes, no one is above the law. Everyone – supposedly from the President on down to the “least” citizen in the country – is liable for their actions. Each owes the same responsibility for following the laws of the land and gains the same protections provided by them. What the President has done this week in directing his Secretary of Homeland Security to blatantly refuse to enforce duly-enacted law is, itself, a violation of law, a willful negligence of duty, and a crystal-clear breach of the oath he undertook when he assumed his office.
The President has decided that his administration will no longer enforce the law against hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens currently known to be in this country. Since the repeated efforts of people who have tried to grant amnesty to illegal “immigrants” through the DREAM Act have failed, the Obama administration, seeking to bolster support for his flagging re-election effort, has simply announced that they are going to act like it’s passed anyway. Under the President’s executive order:
…the United States will stop deporting hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants and give them work permits, a move praised fellow Democrats but criticized by Republicans on Capitol Hill who said the administration has side-stepped the country’s legislative process.
The executive order will apply to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before they were 16 and are younger than 30. They also must have no major criminal offenses, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have graduated from a U.S. high school or have earned a GED, or served in the military.
…which sounds remarkably like the DREAM Act:
- Be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time the Law is enacted
- Arrived in the United States before the age of 16
- Resided continuously in the United States for at least 5 consecutive years since the date of their arrival
- Graduated from a US high school or obtained a General Education Diploma
- Good moral character
…which has been defeated. Repeatedly. Feel free to debate the merits of the DREAM Act all you like, that’s not what this is about. The fact of the matter is that the law is explicit about what law enforcement agencies are supposed to do when confronted by people who are in violation of immigration laws. By simply deciding not to enforce those laws on an entire class of people, the President is guilty of precisely the kind of Executive overreach that the Left and Democrats loudly accused President Bush of. John Yoo writes about this very issue at the National Review Online:
President Obama’s claim that he can refuse to deport 800,000 aliens here in the country illegally illustrates the unprecedented stretching of the Constitution and the rule of law. He is laying claim to presidential power that goes even beyond that claimed by the Bush administration, in which I served. There is a world of difference in refusing to enforce laws that violate the Constitution (Bush) and refusing to enforce laws because of disagreements over policy (Obama).
Under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, the president has the duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” This provision was included to make sure that the president could not simply choose, as the British King had, to cancel legislation simply because he disagreed with it. President Obama cannot refuse to carry out a congressional statute simply because he thinks it advances the wrong policy. To do so violates the very core of his constitutional duties.
While the Democrats are applauding this morning and members of the Left are grinning away, this is a precedent I find it hard to believe they’d support if they gave it a moment’s thought. As Yoo continues in his article, I’d like to ask readers – and particularly leftish/Democrat readers – to imagine this same tactic followed by, say, a President Romney. Yoo mentions the examples of a decision by Romney to simply not enforce Obamacare, allowing doctors and hospitals to simply not implement any of that. Or a refusal to allow the IRS to prosecute failure to pay capital-gains taxes – at all. I’d add as my own example a President Romney deciding to refuse to enforce any regulation made or overseen by the EPA. Perhaps a decision on his part to say and do nothing should States decide to permit companies to start drilling for oil in the Gulf again, off the Atlantic coast, or perhaps in ANWR?
Still supportive of this tactic? Or, perhaps, do we all agree that the President shouldn’t be free to ignore the will of the people as expressed in the duly-passed legislation of our representatives in Congress? I think we should be expecting the Executive Branch to be enforcing the laws and not deciding that their policy desires trump ours. There are methods of changing policy and that’s what should be done if that’s what they want to do.
The President is breaking his oath, clearly and plainly. He is failing to live up to the obligations of the office he freely sought and swore to uphold. Unless he is willing to rescind this order and undertake the task of enforcing the laws of this land, he is unfit for office of the Presidency and should not be given the opportunity to continue. We need new leadership and we need it quickly.