Legislating by Executive Order

President Obama previously said that “America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the president, am obligated to enforce the law, I don’t have a choice abut that.” Yet I have to agree with Charles Krauthammer that when Obama suspended deportations of people under 30 years of age, whose parents or guardians brought them into the United States illegally from Mexico, and who meet certain biographic criteria, he unilaterally created “a new category of persons — a class of 800,000 –” who are “exempt from current law. …”*

The Obama administration has defended the executive order on the basis that the nation doesn’t have the resources to deport all of those who are illegally in the United States and thus it has to make choices as to who gets deported. It has labeled the order as a case of prosecutorial discretion. Yet prosecutorial discretion is usually exercised on a case-by-case basis, not provided to a large class of people. There are undoubtedly those in the estimated class of 800,000, who, due to individual circumstances, should not be deported.

Left largely ignored in the reaction to Obama’s deportation order is that he has deported over a miilion illegals to Mexico and he has broken up families in the process. If the new policy is a humane and compassionate way of dealing with an aspect of the illegal immigrant problem, why didn’t he deal with it early in his presidency, and ideally, try to get legislation passed?

In a prior blog, I said that proposed legislation to require illegal immigrants from Mexico to get in the back of the line and pay a fine or penalty of $2,000 for breaking immigration law before they could be processed for citizenship was the best way of dealing with a major illegal immigration problem.

An Addendum: In my last blog, I said that the mandatory purchase of health insurance could arguably be defined as a penalty or a tax. Now Mitt Romney has deeply muddied the waters with a convoluted explanation of why he had previously called the purchase requirement a penalty but suddenly is calling it a tax. He explained that he was in agreement with the four Supreme Court justices who wanted to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act; however, since the majority had ruled that the mandatory purchase provision was a tax within the constitutional power of Congress, he had to follow that ruling. Romney, however, continued to insist that the mandatory purchase of health insurance he approved as governor of Massachusetts was a penalty but a very similar provision was a tax when applied nationwide. As far as the Constitution is concerned, it doesn’t make any difference if the purchase is defined as a penalty or a tax, since either way it would be within the power of Congress.  

*Charles Krauthammer, “By His Own Admission, Obama Flagrantly Subverts Law,” The Albuquerque Journal, June 23, 2012.


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