In July of 2011, Obama spoke before the National Council of La Raza. Addressing the demands by Hispanic leaders that he simply grant an administrative amnesty, he said said “I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own.” La Raza’s audience broke out in applause and one audience member repeatedly yelled “Yes you can!” While acknowledging “the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting” and “not just on immigration reform,” he told La Raza “that’s not how the system works.” An audience member yelled “change it” but Obama responded “That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written.”
In addition to telling us a great deal about how much groups like La Raza respect notions like separation of powers, it was not the first time he insisted that he would not administratively ignore our immigration laws. That March he responded to a question about the idea on Univision, “With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case…Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws.” President Obama reiterated this point that June in a speech in Texas, noting “sometimes when I talk to immigration advocates, they wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how a democracy works.”
A recent report, “President Obama’s Record of Dismantling Immigration Enforcement” put out by the non-partisan Federation for American Immigration Reform shows that Obama has repeatedly acted in a way that he has said goes against both the Constitution and democratic principles. Obama came into office with a Democratic Supermajority in the Senate and a 37 member majority in the House of Representatives. Despite pushing for amnesty within a month of taking office, he could not get “comprehensive immigration reform” through. Even the lame duck Democratic Congress in 2010 voted down the DREAM Act.
Obama knows that the American people won’t stand for amnesty. Instead, as FAIR’s report details, he has gradually gutted enforcement and has been gradually cutting illegal immigrants loose. The most blatant case occurred last month when, despite his promises to the contrary, Obama enacted the DREAM Act by executive order. Obama’s order does not only applies those who were allegedly brought here as children, but the parents of those who brought illegal aliens.
The DREAM Act executive order is the culmination of many executive actions taken by Obama to undermine our immigration laws. In March of 2011, at the same time he was claiming that he would not bypass congress; Obama’s ICE Chief John Morton began issuing memos urging the courts to use “prosecutorial discretion” and not deport any illegal immigrants who did not also commit other serious crimes.
FAIR’s report also dispenses with the notion that Obama has increased deportations or beefed up on border security. They quote Janet Napolitano admitting that their deportation numbers are deceptively high, and that non-criminal deportations have actually gone down. Shortly after these memos, Immigration officials began dropping deportation orders against tens of thousands of illegal immigrants.
When I worked in the Reagan administration, conservative leaders emphasized the slogan “personnel is policy.” In a giant bureaucracy like the federal government, top bureaucrats have a great deal of authority over how they will enforce, or not enforce the law. FAIR details how Obama put pro-amnesty supporters in charge of enforcing immigration laws. Obama appointed Thomas Perez, a former board member of the CASA De Maryland to lead the civil rights division. CASA De Maryland not only advocated amnesty, but helped create day labor centers for illegal aliens to take jobs from Americans.
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines Civil Rights as “the nonpolitical rights of a citizen.” Yet, as FAIR’s report notes, Tom Perez and Obama’s “Civil Rights Division” has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to sue those who supposedly violated the civil rights of illegal aliens, such as suing Florida for its Voter ID laws, harassing businesses who use E-Verify to ensure they do not hire illegals, suing Sheriff Joe Arpaio for cracking down on illegal immigration, and of course their lawsuits against Arizona for SB 1070.
Obama put sanctuary city police chief Harold Hurt in charge of the 287(g) program. 287(g) is a congressionally created program that encourages cooperation between state law enforcement and federal immigration officials. As police chief of Houston, Hurt ordered his police not to cooperate with federal immigration control. Not surprisingly, DHS has virtually dismantled the 287(g) program and cancelled it with states like Arizona who actually want to use it as Congress intended.
FAIR’s report did not reveal any previously unreleased information about Obama’s immigration policies. However, this is the first comprehensive report to detail virtually every single action that Obama has taken undertaken. Even as someone who follows the immigration issue very closely, I was struck by just how much Obama has done to undemocratically undermine the rule of law and border security.