Obama’s unilateral change of immigration law

If you want an example of why conservatives don’t believe President Obama’s overtures about working with them, and why he actually is making partisanship worse in this country while he claims to want the opposite, look no further than his administration’s new policy toward “low priority” illegal immigrants.

The policy, first reported by the Washington Times and subsequently confirmed in a publicly released memo from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, lays out the criteria for prosecutors to exercise discretion about whether to deport an illegal immigrant. The person in question must:

  • have entered the country before turning 16;
  • have been in the country for at least five years and still be here;
  • be in school (the memo doesn’t specify k-12 or college), or be a high school graduate, or have a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the armed services;
  • have not been convicted of “a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses” or pose “a threat to national security or public safety”;
  • be 30 years old or younger.

Individuals who meet these criteria almost certainly will not be deported. They will not immediately be granted any “substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship” because, in a rare moment of modesty, Napolitano acknowledges the administration can’t go that far in changing the law. But nor can we rule out such a development in the future.

What the administration has done here is short-circuit the legislative process and make a mockery of the idea that he wants to reach compromises with those who think differently about immigration policy.

You may recall that Congress had a heated debate about the DREAM Act, which would have granted a path to citizenship to almost the exact same pool of illegal immigrants. Now, there’s no question the path to citizenship element is a big difference between the two. But nor can anyone deny that Congress, as is its prerogative, has been debating how to change the legal approach to people who were brought to the United States as children — immigrants who arguably did not make the decision to come here illegally and might well be foreigners in their own birth countries if they’ve spent most of their lives here.

There is some sympathy among many conservatives for these child immigrants. But there is also debate about how to make such a policy change without creating an incentive for more illegal immigration. In fact, that is the biggest problem many conservatives — including yours truly — have with making such a policy change. That’s why you hear us talking about making the border more secure first, so that any kind of leniency for illegal immigrants already here does not lead to large number of new illegal immigrants.

With this decision, the Obama administration is dismissing those legitimate concerns. It is antagonizing its critics, who might have helped foster a compromise. And it is undercutting the very notion of a compromise, by taking what it wants without addressing what the other side wants.

Imagine if the president could unilaterally decree higher taxes, and then told conservatives, “OK, now I’ll be happy to talk about spending.” He would have no credibility, because he would already have gotten what he wanted without having to give in on anything.

That’s what’s happened here.

Then there are the details about the policy. Someone who came from Mexico to the U.S. a month before his 16th birthday and is now 21 cannot in any sense be described as someone who knows “only this country as home,” as Napolitano’s memo puts it. These kinds of thresholds for deciding when the law of the land should be ignored are more properly debated in Congress than decreed by an administration. Yes, the memo only grants discretion and doesn’t require it, but it also makes clear a strong preference for ignoring these “low priority cases.”

And let’s not pretend this policy is totally unrelated to this fall’s election. It’s not only brazen pandering to a group whose votes Obama needs desperately, but it is made at the same time his administration is fighting voter ID laws that would prevent, or at least sharply curb, any voting by illegal immigrants. (Apparently, the White House thinks you need to show an ID to listen to your president speak, but not to vote for him.)

Have other presidents single-handedly set policies their political opponents didn’t like? Of course. But most of them didn’t have the chutzpah to continue claiming, three and a half years into a very partisan presidency, that they really, really, really wanted to work with the other side of the aisle.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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288 comments Add your comment

iggy

June 15th, 2012
1:41 pm

This latest move by The Kenyan, will do little to energize his base and imo will move more independents over to the, not to be confused with the silly television show, “Party of Law and Order” ie The GOP.

news2me

June 15th, 2012
1:43 pm

How sweet, Obama is pandering to entitled illegals who have grown up in this country learning how to lie and cheat from the very parents that brought them here. You get what you pay for, or pimp for votes. The apple won’t fall far from the tree, just wait and see.

I propose that we have an Illegal Alien Adoption Act, where those that openly support amnesty for Illegals must adopt and pay for their every need while they are overstaying their visit in our country. Illegla lovers need to put their money where their mouths are!

iggy

June 15th, 2012
1:44 pm

“Nation of Hate, Hate speech, hatuhs, hatin etc”

You guys are so 90’s with your tired ole expressions. Could you please toss out some new buzz words

tiredofIT

June 15th, 2012
1:44 pm

“Party of Law and Order” ie The GOP ——— Now that’s funny!

BW

June 15th, 2012
1:46 pm

iggy

I don’t care who you are….that’s funny!

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 15th, 2012
1:47 pm

Once again President Obama has done what is correct and right. Congratulations to President Obama to stand up against the right wingers in this Country.

So, Bobby, I take it that the Constitution and rule of law is not a big priority with you. Just stick it to the “right wingers”. If he declares himself “President for Life”, that will be OK as well? That would really show up those right wingers.

news2me

June 15th, 2012
1:47 pm

…. have not been convicted of “a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses” or pose “a threat to national security or public safety

LMAO! ALL ILLEGAL ALIENS fall under this category! They are ILLEGAL for pete’s sake!

iggy

June 15th, 2012
1:48 pm

“Now that’s funny!”

Maybe so but you wont be laughing come the Nov elections when the GOP take majorities in both houses and “Willard” takes the Presidential Oath of Office.

BW

June 15th, 2012
1:49 pm

Kyle

You have these people thinking that he actually changed immigration law….Bravo!

A Realist

June 15th, 2012
1:50 pm

OK, new buzz word – the GOP (and their FOX subsidiary) ought to relate to:
Vitriol

How about sputum – that fits many of the comments we hear.

When did people lose their compassion to engender political gain? So you put down one group, wrapping yourself in your personal interpretation of the Constitution… so it’s OK. After all, those people are some subhuman culture we don’t need anyway. And it’s not ‘me’ … so why should I worry or be concerned?

Wow….. somebody way down below is smiling bigtime!

BW

June 15th, 2012
1:50 pm

iggy

If that’s what America chooses….I have no problem with it….my vote is not changed on hyperbole or scary voices on a TV ad is what I’m trying to tell you

tiredofIT

June 15th, 2012
1:50 pm

“So, Bobby, I take it that the Constitution and rule of law is not a big priority with you.” As I remember it, Bush is the one that said it is ‘Just A Goddamned Piece Of Paper’

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a god-damned piece of paper!”

Euro206

June 15th, 2012
1:52 pm

I love it, now that this administration got tired of hoping and trying to deal with the folks on the other side of the table, they’re crying foul. Sick and tired of their garbage and their eagerness to watch the country’s people suffer only to have their wishlist check marked is a travesty and a disgrace to the people they supposedly represent. Then you have these so called journalists with the same ideals and and narrow mindedness to realize that we are a nation of immigrants and have been since it’s foundation. Why is it that most college educated Americans support this president and his views? That should give you a clue as to where this country is headed and the vision that it’s needed to continue to be a thriving nation with the contributions of millions of immigrants.

Mr. Holmes

June 15th, 2012
1:53 pm

How sweet, Obama is pandering to entitled illegals who have grown up in this country learning how to lie and cheat from the very parents that brought them here. You get what you pay for, or pimp for votes. The apple won’t fall far from the tree, just wait and see.

Man, I really wish I could figure out why the GOP has such trouble attracting the Hispanic vote. Because the rhetoric from the Right is so welcoming, and it’s always delivered in such a spirit of Christian love. Just one of those mysterious puzzles of life, I guess.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 15th, 2012
1:54 pm

“So you put down one group, wrapping yourself in your personal interpretation of the Constitution”

What part of “Congress makes the laws” do you NOT understand, Realist?

Roekest

June 15th, 2012
1:54 pm

Let me guess: just another “evolution”?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 15th, 2012
1:54 pm

This latest move by The Kenyan, will do little to energize his base

Yeah, just like those three moves for the LGBT crowd (DADT, DOMA, and Gay marriage) didn’t get most the gays to quiet down and start towing the line.

This will fire up the Hispanics! Some of them might even vote twice!

Old Timer

June 15th, 2012
1:54 pm

Kyle what Washington needs is the great FLUSH–vote them all out and watch the lobbyists panic. A fresh start couldn’t be any worse than what Washington has morphed into. Growing up I got paddled when I screwed up–nowadays instead of getting paddled they get hands slapped and consuling. When the entitlement crowd exceeds the taxpaying crowd the game is over regardless of what political party is in charge.. I am anxiously awaiting the Courts decision on Obama Care.–the next ax to fall.

iggy

June 15th, 2012
1:55 pm

Napoleonitano has a complex.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 15th, 2012
1:55 pm

always delivered in such a spirit of Christian love

The meek shall inherit…my boot in their rears.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 15th, 2012
1:56 pm

“we are a nation of immigrants and have been since it’s foundation.”

Yes. LEGAL immigrants.

“Why is it that most college educated Americans support this president and his views?”

The gross stupidity of the American electorate?

JF McNamara

June 15th, 2012
1:57 pm

Republicans should be happy. He’s solved this problem for you. Just shut up and accept the gift.

One of the biggest problems is that Republicans alienate Latinos with borderline (sometimes overt) racist talk on immigration and its going to affect you demographically in the future. If I were you, I would try to frame it as sensible legislation to a problem too big to solve. Claim victory in the fact that they don’t get citizenship and shut up about it.

This isn’t incentive. They are coming anyway and this is pretty much the policy we had before this announcement. It’s likely where Romney would have had to land anyway. You can’t deport all illegals.

Declare victory and move on.Getting hateful only weakens your position further.

iggy

June 15th, 2012
1:57 pm

“Yeah, just like those three moves for the LGBT crowd (DADT, DOMA, and Gay marriage) didn’t get most the gays to quiet down and start towing the line.”

That will not be enough to swing any State. Good thing I already gave you that frowny face … :(

BW

June 15th, 2012
1:57 pm

“Napoleonitano”

I’m borrowing that one…..that’s hilarious!

A Realist

June 15th, 2012
1:59 pm

Tiberius,
What I don’t understand is the hate of others that the GOP seems to have encouraged. That probably came out of their putting party in front of country in numerous statements (#1 job is to make president have a single term …etc.)

Obama has broken no laws….
Maybe you read the constitution for some other country….yes, that must be it. And if you say his is for the US constitution, you also have to look at all the myriad of court interpretations and opinions. There are lots of ‘em. Let us know when you finish reading.

Aquagirl

June 15th, 2012
2:00 pm

LMAO! ALL ILLEGAL ALIENS fall under this category!

Except…they don’t. If their parents brought them here then they guilty of only a civil penalty, not a criminal one.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 15th, 2012
2:01 pm

A Constitutional decision allowing a President to unilaterally decide policy due to the inactivity of Congress will be impossible for you to find, Realist.

It doesn’t exist.

Jefferson

June 15th, 2012
2:02 pm

So what, other than whine are you going to do about it ? Congress is most of the problem.

iggy

June 15th, 2012
2:04 pm

A Realist

June 15th, 2012
2:04 pm

Tiberius
I’m not going to waste my time arguing….
There have been too many executive orders and signing statements in the past that have been held as valid.
Let’s see… who liked them so much….. was it… no…..W? Oooh! but we don’t count those, they were OK.

Mr. Holmes

June 15th, 2012
2:05 pm

Points to JF McNamara for one of the most sensible posts of the day. Except it ignores Guiding Principle #1 of the current GOP: If Obama does it, it must be tyranny.

The GOP leadership and their symbiotic brethren in the conservative media have whipped the base into such a lather over any Democratic president–who by definition must be illegitimate, since staunch conservatives are actually a majority of the country and not the 30-40% that polling shows them to be, and these folks who never legitimately elect a Democrat–that they must oppose everything said president does because it has to be illegal, immoral, unconstitutional and un-American. As was said by the gentleman replacing Dick Lugar on the Indiana’s Senate ballot this year said, “My idea of bipartisan is for Democrats to come around to the Republican way of thinking.”

Because THAT’S the way you run a country, folks.

A Realist

June 15th, 2012
2:07 pm

Nice comment Holmes…. as they say No S#%@ Sherlock!

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 15th, 2012
2:08 pm

Romney is out of his league. The same election machine that defeated the Clinton election machine is way too much for this rich kid who has never really had to fight for anything.

And, yes, you can include those 4 Vietnam deferments as examples of that inability to put up a fight.

ND

June 15th, 2012
2:11 pm

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/15/from-day-one.html

They were not necessarily the party’s official leaders, but they were the emotional leaders of the new breed–Jim DeMint, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy–which is to say, the cohort to whom many others were looking for leadership; indeed, if you know anything about Mitch McConnell, to whom the leadership was looking for leadership. They talked for four hours about what their posture should be.

They agreed that night: oppose everything in completely unity. Show, Draper writes, “united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies.”

So, before President Obama had proposed a single idea, the Republicans had already decided that they would oppose everything he did.

But sure, Obama is the one making partisanship worse in this country.

Curious

June 15th, 2012
2:12 pm

Posted this on another blog.

Too bad we didn’t have this means of “discussion” back in the 50’s.

The topic would’ve been integration and the conservatives (Southern Democrats, at that time) would’ve been foaming at the mouth about how it was going to destroy the country.

Heck, go back to the 40’s when Truman integrated the military. Same reaction then.

When our grandchildren (great grandchildren in my case) grow up, they’ll look back and wonder how stupid could we have been.

Latinos are here, they aren’t going away. DEAL WITH IT!

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 15th, 2012
2:13 pm

Google Translate says that the word for Hispanics who support Obozo is “tonto”.

ND

June 15th, 2012
2:14 pm

And let’s be real, notwithstanding the intentionally misleading headline, the administration is not “changing the law”. They are choosing not to enforce the law. That is a significant difference.

Peadawg

June 15th, 2012
2:17 pm

“the administration is not “changing the law”. They are choosing not to enforce the law. That is a significant difference.”

You’re right. I would stick w/ ‘changing the law’. It sounds much better.

stevie ray

June 15th, 2012
2:19 pm

Typical move by President Trillions…all carrot and no stick…at least his position on illegal immigration is consistent…”look the other way and protect the voting pool..” He is spineless and doesn’t deserve another term…at least the other option is somewhat less frightening…

stevie ray

June 15th, 2012
2:22 pm

ND,

How exactly can you assign blame relative to political polarity to one party over the other? Rather naive in my book…none of them give a flip about us or our money…the extremes of both parties need to be kept in check but both sides are childish in the discharging of constitutional obligations.

onpatroll

June 15th, 2012
2:22 pm

So its no to a penny sales tax to fix roads and other stuff for our state but you would still spend millions deporting people who haven’t caused one problem. Got it.

Jefferson

June 15th, 2012
2:23 pm

Go where the immegrants come from if you don’t like it, said one immegrant.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 15th, 2012
2:26 pm

“They are choosing not to enforce the law. That is a significant difference.”

Yeah, it’s called a dictatorship fostered by lawlessness.

This will be the hallmark of the one-term President known as Obama.

Historians will be writing about his incompetency and his disdain for the rule of law and the Constitution for decades to come.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 15th, 2012
2:27 pm

And let’s be real, notwithstanding the intentionally misleading headline, the administration is not “changing the law”. They are choosing not to enforce the law.
——–

A distinction without a difference.

Maybe it’s time President Romney reprises Sonny Perdue’s “King Rat” commercial.

Sheri Andersen

June 15th, 2012
2:27 pm

I’m so very very upset with this!!!!! So many Americans are out of work and need jobs that will now be given to these illegal immagrants. I just don’t understand except to only win the votes by these people. It’s bad enough when looking for a job it requires bilingual speaking only!!!! We are do going in the wrong direction it really stinks! These people are ruining our country, taking all of the American jobs, it’s destroyed our system and it’s just getting worse. We need a big change!!!! I’m very sad and discouraged with where our country is heading!!!!

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 15th, 2012
2:31 pm

Some of us are for the rule of law, not of men.

The rest are Obozo fanboys.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 15th, 2012
2:32 pm

With all the Wingnut screeching I will HAVE to tune into Hannity on the drive home today!

listen to that head a’splodin!

griff

June 15th, 2012
2:34 pm

This President has to GO!!!!

griff

June 15th, 2012
2:35 pm

Time for Romney

Tom

June 15th, 2012
2:35 pm

I am a legal immigrant who waited in line and went through due process to get citizenship. Might have been easier if I just relied on someone to bring me here, and wait it out. Would have saved me some dollars! I am now very confused as to why this very important decision is not put to a referendum so that the voice of the legal US citizens can be heard. Is this the type of decision that can be made by one person about a country’s fate? Maybe I don’t understand the political system here yet!