I was walking past city hall in Cambridge, Massachusetts recently. I looked up and saw this inscription just above the main entrance at 795 Massachusetts Avenue:
“God has given Commandments unto Men. From these Commandments Men have framed Laws by which to be governed. It is honorable and praiseworthy to faithfully serve the people by helping to administer these Laws. If the Laws are not enforced, the People are not well governed.”
That made me think of President Obama’s decision to not enforce the nation’s immigration laws.
Congress has resisted the President’s call for so-called immigration reform that would amnesty most illegal aliens and double legal immigration prospectively. In response, President Obama has announced a policy of prosecutorial discretion with the effect that mere presence in the U.S. in violation of our immigration laws is no longer a priority for enforcement, and only convicted felons and national security risks in our illegal alien population are now high priorities for removal. So the majority of illegal aliens in the U.S. are no longer priorities for removal.
Through executive order, President Obama has unilaterally decided that illegal aliens who entered the U.S. before age 16 were not responsible for their illegal entry, and so should receive work authorization and not be subject to removal. More than 550,000 aliens have been approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) since 2012. The President has announced his intention to expand that program after the November 4 election to provide the same benefits to many additional illegal immigrants including the parents of DACA beneficiaries. This would reward parents for deliberately bringing their children to the U.S. in violation of our immigration laws.
Is it any wonder why the U.S. is now experiencing a flood of aliens crossing our border illegally, including record numbers of parents with children, all expecting to benefit from the administration’s policies? More than 57,000 illegal aliens have been classified by the administration as unaccompanied minors since October, with 90,000 total projected to arrive by the end of September. President Obama claims his hands are tied by a “Trafficking Victims Protection” statute enacted by Congress in 2008 aimed at protecting “unaccompanied alien children” who are or at risk of becoming victims of trafficking.
But analysis published by the Center for Immigration Studies points out three separate reasons suggesting that the administration is using the 2008 statute as another excuse for non-enforcement of immigration law.
First, federal law defines “unaccompanied alien child” as an illegal alien under 18 years old, who is without “a parent or legal guardian in the United States”. Federal data confirms that most of the unaccompanied minors arriving illegally in the U.S. are trying to join parents or other relatives already illegally in the U.S.
Second, the policy of the 2008 statute is to protect people from becoming victims of trafficking, which involves coercion or exploitation. But again, federal data confirms that many most of the unaccompanied minors arriving illegally are in fact being smuggled voluntarily into the U.S. to join parents or relatives already illegally in the U.S.
Finally, the 2008 statute provides an exception , that its procedural requirements should apply “[e]xcept in the case of exceptional circumstances”. Senator Feinstein of California noted in public hearing that this provision would allow the President discretion in how the law is applied in light of the current influx of illegal immigration.
What if a future president wants to cut income tax rates to a flat 10%, but Congress refuses to go along? Does the president have prosecutorial discretion to announce that taxpayers refusing to pay taxes at the statutory rate will not be a priority for enforcement as long as they pay 10%? That is where President Obama is leading the country through his discretionary non-prosecution of our immigration laws, trampling the constitutional role of Congress in favor of an ever more imperial presidency.