Obama’s “Parole in Place” is a Place to Bury the Law

Dan Stein

11/27/2013 12:01:00 AM - Dan Stein

Earlier this month, the Obama Administration continued its collision course with our constitutional separation of powers doctrine, once again unleashing policy memos announcing vast new illegally –expanded “parole” powers and discretion that will allow millions of illegal aliens to stay in the country indefinitely. This latest version includes two new groups: illegal alien spouses, children and parents of military personnel (and veterans) and certain relatives of those entering under the relaxed standards of the Visa Waiver program.

This continues an historic power grab by the chief executive to rewrite the laws through the creative use of seemingly limitless parole powers will prompt more demands for similar treatment by virtually every possible class of illegal alien.

In the great systole and diastole of immigration politics, one thing has been crystal clear: Our Constitution empowers Congress with exclusive plenary authority to legislate immigration policy and requires the Executive Branch to carry out the immigration laws of the United States precisely as they are written. The parole power is supposed to be limited and used on a case-by-case determination based on extraordinary and exceptional circumstances. Moreover, it is intended to apply only to those outside of the country, not those already here.

The abuse of the parole power has been a periodic source of concern in Congress for one specific reason; the parole power can be recklessly misused by the executive to avoid the legal immigration limits enacted by Congress. The legislative branch understands that in order to enforce overall limits, the executive must carry out the laws vigorously to deter the millions who fall outside the limits but plan to come anyway. But rather than enforcing these limits and working to improve state-federal cooperation in immigration enforcement, President Obama has simply refused or abandoned his responsibilities to carry out the law.

These latest “policy memos” confirm that the Obama Administration believes it can bend the law and use limitless parole to bypass the immigration laws without restraint. In the case of illegally-resident relatives of military personnel, these new “parole in place” powers artfully try to take statutory language Congress enacted to try to limit parole and expedite removal to actually do the opposite -- expand parole and defeat removal. These laws – enacted via the pro-enforcement measures in 1996 – were drafted to try to limit illegal immigration and strengthen the hand of the executive to more easily remove illegal immigrants.

In the case of the relatives of citizens entering under the Visa Waiver program, the Administration seems to be willing to institutionalize illegal overstays as part of its routine practice within a program staggeringly vulnerable to immigration-related fraud. Essentially, if you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen and you are from a Visa Waiver program country that allows you to enter without a visa, you never have to leave despite the letter of the law. The exception has become the rule. Imagine the fraud and potential threat to U.S. national security.

These latest memos are on top of the previous ones relating to aliens under the age of 31, the so-called DACA amnesty. Back in 2010, internally leaked memos revealed the overall administration plan to thwart the immigration laws through a patchwork of clever agency actions.

By the end of 2016, the administration may well have decided it can parole in nearly all of the illegal alien population. Finding ways to overcome statutory limits on immigration appears to be the administration’s overriding policy objective. It likes to call immigrants, intending immigrants, illegal immigrants, NGOs, ethnic lobbies and their attorneys as “stakeholders,” as if the ultimate stakeholders, the American people, had no stake in the matter.

It is a betrayal of his public trust, not to mention the Constitution, to ignore and re-write U.S. immigration laws in such an illegal fashion. Priority number one for Congress must be to step in and restore public trust in our immigration laws by first re-asserting its right to make the immigration laws of the nation, and secondly by crafting methods to ensure a rogue chief executive can never again steal from the American people the right to decide who may enter this nation and who may not.