On 22 separate occasions, President Barack Obama told various audiences that he lacks the legal authority under the Constitution to move unilaterally on immigration. Barack Obama frequently railed against what he characterized as President George W. Bush’s executive power overreaches.
All of those statements, like so many of this president’s previous statements, are set to expire on November 20, 2014. Barack Obama’s word is utterly worthless. Tomorrow, Obama will go rogue and grant legal status to as many as 5,000,000 illegal aliens. He will make the announcement and then do one of the few things that he really knows how to do — campaign. He will go to Vegas and speak at a high school in front of a cheering, hand-picked audience of supporters to tout the plan that nearly two-dozen times he called illegal. He will either ignore or insult critics and skeptics.
Obama and his allies claim that his move is similar to ones made in years past by Presidents Reagan and Bush. Like nearly everything else that Obama and his allies say, this is a lie. Reagan and Bush were working within a law passed by Congress in 1986. Obama is explicitly acting because Congress will not meet his demands and pass a law that he wants. Obama is not even giving the new Congress time to act. It was elected this month and will not be sworn in until January. Obama is acting now expressly to pick fights and provoke, not to solve any actual problem that the bulk of the American people want solved.
Obama intends for this move to divide Republicans and unite Democrats. In reality, it’s likely to divide both, though not very neatly. It also endangers the Constitution. That’s a feature of Obama’s plan, not a bug.
On the Democratic side, there remain enough red state and border state Democrats who will be rendered even more vulnerable by the president’s move, coming as it does in the face of public opposition to it. Democrats have taken a bludgeoning at the state and local level thanks in no small part to Obama’s actions and policies. More will be forced to distance themselves from him, or lose.
On the Republican side, the business interests that rely on cheap (and often illegal) labor will be supportive of Obama’s action, while the GOP’s security-minded base will be inflamed. Obama is banking on the latter to react angrily and toss up heated rhetoric that he and the media will undoubtedly use to cast opposition as “racist.” As always, Obama is counting on the corrupt national media to help him out. There is little reason for him to expect anything else.
The president will also promise to secure the border, but that will eventually prove to be a lie. He has no interest in security on the border. He is fully aware that granting unilateral amnesty sets a precedent for future presidents and will turn on a new flow of illegal immigration. Obama is knowingly and with malice aforethought making our borders less secure. As in the manner in which he sold Obamacare, he is knowingly and with malice aforethought lying to the nation.
Obama’s move puts the Republican-controlled Congress in a bind, as it is intended to do. Congress has few tools to discipline a truly rogue president. It can de-fund the government’s ability to process those who are included on Obama’s amnesty. He will veto any such measure. That sets up the possibility of a government shutdown, and even though the president will be to blame, the media will blame Republicans entirely. Obama is banking on that.
Congress can take him to court, as it is already doing over Obama’s unilateral re-writing of Obamacare. That could take years to sort out, by which time the 5,000,000 will have been granted status, and by which time Obama’s presidency may have already run its course. There are reasons that Obama is doing this now, and not years ago when Democrats controlled Congress and he still faced re-election. It’s the fierce urgency of getting away with as much as he can, when he is least likely to be held accountable.
Congress can impeach a rogue president. Obama himself, in his many statements on the illegality of his actions, has built up a decent rhetorical case for his own removal from office. But the Republicans are not interested in impeaching the nation’s first black president, and removing him does not solve the problem anyway. Vice President Joe Biden would rise to the presidency.
Barack Obama, the former adjunct constitutional law professor, has found a weakness in the system of checks and balances. They require men and women of honor who will be bound by the law and their word, and who cherish our constitutional order. Barack Obama is bound by none of that. He is only bound by his self love and his ambition, both of which are considerable, and his desire to break a constitutional system that he clearly disdains.
Obama’s hacking of the Constitution will continue for two more years, after which he hopes to have finished his fundamental transformation of America — away from a sound system that restrains would-be tyrants, toward a system that empowers and emboldens them.