Government & Politics

The Stage Is Set for Executive Amnesty

The administration is making final preparations for an immigration announcement.

Aug. 29, 2014

Just a few weeks ago, it appeared immigration would dominate the news headlines leading up to the November election. But war in the Middle East and Ukraine and riots in Ferguson have pushed the situation at the border down to a few sidebar stories.

Yet the political stakes are high, and the red line of Barack Obama’s promise to take steps on immigration reform by the end of summer – with or without Congress – means there could be an executive action on his part in the next few weeks. “[H]ave no doubt, um, in the absence of congressional action, uh, I’m going to do what I can to make sure the system works better,” he said Thursday. The president has nothing to lose and everything to gain politically.

Most likely his action will be an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order, which essentially served as a permission slip for more than 1.5 million illegal aliens who came as children with their parents. Administration insiders believe five or six million more illegals will benefit from any new Obama move. Proponents argue it’s a necessary step to take because resources are limited and Congress didn’t act. Meanwhile, Democrats believe the Republican reaction would be beneficial to their side. They’re just daring Republicans to say the “i-word” should Obama go through with this DACA-expansion amnesty.

But Obama himself made the case against executive action not all that long ago. In 2012, he argued he couldn’t go any further than deferring deportations for children: “If we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that’s not an option.”

Much of this could have been avoided, claims “Gang of Eight” member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). “I’ve been warning that [Obama] would do something unilaterally on immigration at some point, despite his denials of any intention to do that,” said Rubio. “My fundamental warning was that if [Republicans] didn’t like the legalization provisions in the bill, it was quite possible, if we didn’t act, that we would get the Gang of Eight-style legalization but without any of the bill’s enforcement mechanisms,” he added, defending his participation.

While Rubio was in favor of the Gang of Eight approach at the time, he now believes it was a mistake. If done again, he would secure the border first, then install broader E-verify requirements and reform the tracking of visa entries and exits. Of course, enforcement is all up to the will of the Executive Branch. And House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), for one, is of the opinion that Obama is “threatening to rewrite our immigration laws unilaterally” rather than provide enforcement.

Nor is enforcement on the mind of governors like California’s Jerry Brown, who introduced Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto by saying all immigrants were welcome in his state, legal or not.

In his speech, the Mexican president called the United States “the other Mexico” and gushed that California had “evolved” compared to other states which “skimp on recognition of … the rights of immigrants.” It’s estimated that 11.4 million immigrants who were born in Mexico reside in the United States, a sizable chunk of the roughly 120 million who populate Mexico. A recent Pew survey found just over one-third of Mexicans would move to the United States if they had the chance, and one-sixth would even do so illegally. That’s about 20 million more for the permanent underclass of likely Democrat voters.

Clearly, much of this immigration furor is political posturing for both the November midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race. But with either result, Obama has the chance to emerge victorious – either he gets a Democrat-controlled Senate to keep House Republicans at bay, or he gets a completely Republican-controlled Congress that will incentivize him to use his pen, if not his phone. Amnesty is just one place where he can whet his appetite for dictatorial power, with climate change being another.

The irony, of course, is that mass amnesty will hurt Obama’s own low-income constituents most by depressing wages and making it hard to find jobs. All net job gains since 2000 went to immigrants.

Thus, despite polls which for years have shown Americans would prefer no greater number of immigrants – if not a decrease in the rate – it’s likely that executive policy will take us in the other direction while ignoring the vital function of border security. The system isn’t actually broken, but the laws aren’t being enforced.

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