(This column, by InsiderAdvantage co-publisher Phil Kent, originally appeared in the Nov. 24 Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is a member of the Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board.)

Everyone agrees that our broken immigration system needs to be fixed. But President Barack Obama’s “fix” is a blatant unconstitutional overreach of executive power which undermines the rule and law and serves as a magnet for more illegal immigration.

His executive order “deferring” deportation for approximately five million illegal aliens– which means giving them work permits and Social Security numbers, as well as allowing them driver’s licenses– will encourage more illegal crossings through porous border areas.

Americans have seen it before. After all, experience is a great teacher. Ask U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa.  He voted for the 1986 so-called “Immigration Control and Reform Act” based on the promise of a “fix.” But since it granted amnesty to millions of illegals first and promised border security and employer sanctions that never occurred, the senator admits he was “completely fooled.”

Let’s not be fooled again!

Our past president didn’t enforce some immigration laws and our current president not only doesn’t enforce laws, he “waives” parts of laws that he doesn’t like through executive fiat. Obama’s main justification for his order is that “Congress failed to act.” That’s not true. Congress did not fail to act. It chose not to act in granting such a massive amnesty. That’s the way our republic is supposed to work.

Greg Jarrett, a lawyer and Fox News analyst, cites three compelling reasons why the Obama order is illegal:

  • It is a distortion of “prosecutorial discretion.” In past decisions the U.S. Supreme Court has cautioned the executive branch that executive orders may not be used to adopt a sweeping policy of non-enforcement of the law. Such discretion has applied only to decisions not to prosecute or expel specific individuals or small groups of people. Furthermore, Obama is bestowing this blanket amnesty not for reasons allowed by law, but for reasons purely political. He wants these low-wage illegals to remain here permanently, hoping that in the future they and their children will be voting predominantly for Democrats.
  • It is a usurpation of legislative authority. The Supreme Court has declared that Congress has “plenary power” (meaning full and complete) to regulate immigration. Derived from Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, the doctrine is based on the concept that immigration is a question of national security, relating to a nation’s right to regulate border policy. Yet this is usurped by a unilateral presidential directive.
  • It breaches a president’s sworn duty.  Article II, Section 3 requires that a president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Current law specifically requires the deportation of illegal aliens when apprehended.  A president cannot ignore or nullify such a law.

Consider what this executive order does, if not overturned or defunded.

  • Most of the five million-plus illegal aliens may stay permanently. It may be next to impossible to remove these “temporary” deferrals. It will depend on who the next president is.
  • The “legalized” illegals, with their work permits, would compete directly in the job market with Americans– 40 million of whom are unemployed
  • By giving work permits to millions of low-skilled Third Worlders, many of whom with limited English skills, wages will be depressed.

Consider, too, the impact of this new order on all 50 states.  A 2010 study revealed that the burden of supporting illegal immigration with public benefits costs just Georgia taxpayers $2.4 billion annually (a figure that includes U.S. citizen children of illegal aliens). The taxpayer tab for the nation as a whole, according to Fox News business analyst Stuart Varney, is $113 billion a year—with most going to education and healthcare. With more potential illegal immigrants planning to sneak across our borders to enjoy everything from schooling to healthcare courtesy of Uncle Sap, the added costs are incalculable.

What would real immigration reform mean? First, repealing this damaging executive order either through a successful lawsuit or through the new Congress defunding as much of its expenditures as possible. Real reform also means enhanced border and internal enforcement, fixing the exit-entry visa system so we know who enters and leaves (to assist in thwarting terrorists like the Boston bombers) and streamlining our guest worker programs so that, if no American is displaced, a temporary foreign employee can fill the job.

Finally, think of the message this Obama decree sends to the world. How can we expect foreigners to respect our immigration laws if our own president doesn’t respect them?


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