Last week, the Obama administration announced it will halt deportations of illegal immigrants on a case-by-case basis depending on whether they held certain criteria. Such criteria included attending school, having a family and having primary care responsibility for a family member. Basically, illegal aliens who break into the United States have the same chance of being deported as a tenured New Jersey public school teacher does of being fired.
Many on the right have called the plan ‘back door amnesty,’ while some on the left such as Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) congratulated the President for showing “muscle” on the issue. The details of the executive order are very similar to that of the failed DREAM ACT which did not pass the Democratic controlled senate in 2009. President Obama said to the National Council of La Raza just three weeks ago that he could not round up congress and pass reform on his own because “that’s not how a democracy functions.” Yet less than a month later the President revised his idea of executive power once he saw his poll numbers dropping with Hispanic voters. Members of the left, who today celebrate President Obama’s decisive actions, must tread lightly. If President Obama can ignore immigration laws by executive order, then President Bachmann can ignore or alter abortion laws by the same means.
Going around congressional action to pass legislation is nothing new for President Obama. Several months ago President Obama drafted an executive order to implement parts of Senator Charles Schumer’s (D-NY) Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act (DISCLOSE Act). The DISCLOSE Act was a referendum on the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizen’s United case, which allowed corporations to donate to candidates. When the bill failed in the Senate 59-39, President Obama took it upon himself to push legislation by executive order. The brass use of executive power was so blatant even minority whip Steny Hoyer lambasted the President. Ultimately partly due to internal pressures within the Democratic Party, the executive order has not been signed as of yet.