Right Hooks

Obama Is Nothing Like Reagan

Nov. 21, 2014

Barack Obama’s Leftmedia boosters are defending his executive order, claiming “Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did it.” However, an Obama Democrat, George Washington University constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, challenges that assertion, noting, “This would be unprecedented, and I think it would be an unprecedented threat to the balance of powers. … I hope he does not get away with it.”

According to legal analyst Gabriel Malor, “Reagan, seeing this family unity problem that Congress had not anticipated or addressed when it granted amnesty to millions of parents, issued an executive order to defer the removal of children of the people who had applied for immigration amnesty under Congress’ new law. He allowed those children to remain in the United States while their parents’ applications for amnesty were pending. A few years later, Bush 41 extended this bit of administrative grace to these same children plus certain spouses of the aliens who had actually been granted immigration amnesty under Congress’ new law. Presidents Reagan and Bush 41 filled that statutory gap. Obama is clearly contravening both ordinary practice and the wishes of Congress – as expressed in statute – by declaring an amnesty himself. This is nothing like Reagan’s or Bush’s attempts to implement Congress’ amnesty.”

Another legal scholar, Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation, notes that the Reagan and Bush EO’s were clearly within their constitutional authority, while Obama’s clearly is not.

To claim they are the same “plays a bit fast-and-loose with history,” Spakovsky writes, “and fails to explain the significant difference between Obama going against the will of Congress, which considered and rejected the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act on several occasions, including when both houses of Congress were controlled by the president’s party, and Reagan and Bush who made administrative corrections designed to carry out congressional intent. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority to ‘establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization….’ And it is the president’s constitutional duty, under Article II, Section 3, to ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed….’”

Specifically, Spakovsky writes, in 1987 “Reagan was not defying Congress, but rather carrying out the general intent of Congress which had just passed a blanket amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.”

And Bush’s action, which affected about 140,000 people, “was well within the authority delegated to the executive branch and a ‘legitimate exercise of prosecutorial discretion.’”

The bottom line is, results or wisdom of past executive orders aside, Reagan’s and Bush’s were far different than Obama’s in almost every way.

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