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Why President Obama’s Amnesty for Illegal Aliens is Wrong and Dangerous

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
On June 15, President Obama stepped into the Rose Garden to announce that his administration would halt deportations of illegal aliens under the age of 30 who can plausibly show they arrived in the United States before their 16th birthdays. To qualify, these illegal aliens would have to meet some minimal requirements, such as completion of high school or a GED and have no felony convictions on their records and no more than two misdemeanor convictions. In addition, beneficiaries of this administrative amnesty – about 1.4 million people, according to the Pew Hispanic Center – would eligible to receive work authorization.

The President’s decision to grant “deferred action” to these illegal aliens is a political move designed to energize his political base in advance of the November elections. Unfortunately, political pandering is the least egregious thing about the policy the President is implementing. Far more serious is the damage that President Obama’s new policy is inflicting on our constitutional system of government and on the interests of the American people.

In order to carry out his amnesty plan, President Obama is nullifying numerous laws made by Congress and, by executive fiat, is implementing legislation, known as the DREAM Act, that Congress has repeatedly rejected. As recently as December 2010 (when Democrats controlled both houses) Congress voted down the DREAM Act. “No” is an action, even if it is not the response the President wanted.

Under our constitutional system, Congress has exclusive authority to make immigration laws. It is the responsibility of the president to carry them out, as Mr. Obama has acknowledged. When asked in March 2011 whether he could implement amnesty by executive order, the President stated, “With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed… that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.”

Among the many laws President Obama’s policy nullifies is one that explicitly bars illegal aliens from employment in the U.S. It is an aspect of the policy that the President’s political opponents have curiously failed to seize upon, even as they attack him for anemic job growth. On top of some 23 million American who are un- or underemployed, including a disproportionate share of young people, the President’s policy will inject upwards of a million illegal aliens who will be able to compete legally for every available job in the country.

Even though only those who were in the U.S. as of June 15 can qualify for deferred action, the inevitable consequence of this policy will be a massive increase in illegal immigration. If, as the President declared, allowing illegal aliens who were brought or sent here illegally as kids is “the right thing to do,” the same will be true for the next wave of illegal aliens. The message to people all around the world is clear: Get your kids to the U.S., keep them here for a few years, and they will receive amnesty too.

While the President is clearly culpable for implementing an amnesty that, by his own admission, is beyond his constitutional authority, the folks at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue are equally at fault – particularly, though not exclusively, the Republican leadership. The President was emboldened to take this action because of their silence as he has usurped more and more of their constitutional authority over immigration policy over the past three years.

Even if John Boehner and Mitch McConnell would prefer to quietly surrender to the President on immigration, they have no right to surrender the constitutional authority entrusted to them by our Founding Fathers. Moreover, having set this precedent, they must expect that this and future presidents will act with similar impunity on countless other issues.

Congress is not powerless to respond. They can halt this unauthorized amnesty in its tracks by cutting off funding to carry it out. Congress has the oversight authority to ensure that monies it has appropriated for enforcement of U.S. immigration laws are not redirected to other purposes. And, if necessary, Congress must at least attempt to defend its constitutional authority to make the nation’s laws in the courts – because, to paraphrase President Obama, it is the right thing to do.

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