In declaring his executive amnesty on Thursday evening, President Barack Obama made the case for seizing what he once described as imperial powers. He said he had been compelled to do so because of the “broken” state of the country’s immigration system. In so doing, Obama obscured five truths about immigration reform.
1. The country wants border security first. In ten years of debate about immigration reform, and three decades of experience, two limits have been identified. One is that Americans will not tolerate the deportation of families. The other is that Americans want border security before new benefits are given to illegal aliens. Putting reform and security in one “comprehensive” bill does not work. Security first; reform separately, and later.
2. Obama has made a “broken” system worse. The “Dream Act” that Obama implemented by fiat in 2012 added a massive new burden to the immigration bureaucracy. Legal immigrants in mid-application were shunted aside in favor of hundreds of thousands of new applicants for deferred action. Many legal immigrants were even stranded abroad, separated from their families. Obama’s executive amnesty will make things worse.
3. Obama spent his Senate career stopping immigration reform. Mark Salter, former speechwriter and chief of staff for Sen. John McCain, has recounted how then-Senator Obama not only failed to show up for many of the negotiations over immigration reform, but torpedoed bipartisan efforts by a Republican-governed Congress by insisting on conditions designed by unions and the far left to kill any new immigration legislation.
4. Obama told Congress that he would veto anything it passed that he did not like. Though Obama has made much of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill, which the Republican-led House refused to consider, he has also vowed to veto any immigration reform that the House passes that does not also include some form of amnesty for illegal aliens. By refusing to compromise on the substance of reform, he has, in effect, failed to act.
5. The rule of law is the reason America attracts immigrants. Obama touted figures showing that the number of illegal crossings has declined. But that is largely because America’s economy has grown only slowly on his watch. The reason, historically, for American economic success has been the strong rule of law. By taking unilateral, unconstitutional action, Obama has actually undermined the country’s appeal to future immigrants.