As President Trump prepares to declare a state of emergency to redirect billions of dollars to fund his long-promised wall on the southern border, it is worth looking back at why he is prepared to do so.
After Democrats won the majority in the House of Representatives, I asked the president if he believed he could follow in the footsteps of former President Barack Obama and use the executive power of the “pen and his phone” to implement his immigration agenda:
Breitbart News: Former President Barack Obama famously said that he had “a pen and a phone” to use executive power on issues like immigration. Do you see yourself using executive power to get some of your immigration agenda done?
THE PRESIDENT: I do. I do. I think that some of it I can use executive power — on some. Not all. But I got — I mean, he certainly used it.
He used it on DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals]. And when he did it, he said something to the effect that “I’m not allowed to do this, it will never hold up, but I’m doing it anyway.” And he did it and they found judges that approved it. We also found judges that didn’t approve it, so it’s obviously going to be determined in the Supreme Court.
The president’s critics are citing his protest of Obama’s use of executive power in 2014.
“Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress,” Trump wrote.
Trump was reacting to Obama’s attempt to provide amnesty to up to five million illegal immigrants through DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents). Obama announced DAPA just 16 days after the 2014 midterm elections in which Republicans improved their majority to 13 seats.
In an interview on Fox & Friends, Trump described DAPA as “a very, very dangerous thing that should be overwritten easily by the Supreme Court.”
Trump was right. A deadlocked Supreme Court decision upheld the ruling from a lower court declaring the law unconstitutional. President Trump is also awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court on DACA.
Despite the court challenges, Obama successfully forced through his immigration agenda for the remainder of his term. Frustrated Republican critics resorted to court challenges, but Obama reaped the political rewards from his political base, who were surprised and delighted by his bold action.