I am an open borders kind of guy. In general, if you've got the gumption to get here, then you've got what it takes to be an American. Congress should long ago have adopted legislation that would enable undocumented immigrants to get on the path toward citizenship.
That being said, what President Obama is about to do tonight with regard to immigration is very dangerous to our constitutional order. And I am not alone in thinking so. Earlier this week, the editorial board of the Washington Post warned the president and the progressive peanut gallery of the danger inherent in trying to set immigration policy via fiat. The Post op-ed, "In Mr. Obama's own words, acting alone is 'not how our democracy functions'," the editorial board sketched out this future scenario:
It is 2017. Newly elected President Ted Cruz (R) insists he has won a mandate to repeal Obamacare. The Senate, narrowly back in Democratic hands, disagrees. Mr. Cruz instructs the Internal Revenue Service not to collect a fine from anyone who opts out of the individual mandate to buy health insurance, thereby neutering a key element of the program. It is a matter of prosecutorial discretion, Mr. Cruz explains; tax cheats are defrauding the government of billions, and he wants the IRS to concentrate on them. Of course, he is willing to modify his order as soon as Congress agrees to fix what he considers a "broken" health system.
That is not a perfect analogy to Mr. Obama's proposed action on immigration. But it captures the unilateral spirit that Mr. Obama seems to have embraced since Republicans swept to victory in the midterm elections.
Giving presidents the notion that they can pick and choose (discretion) which laws to enforce destroys the rule of law and leads toward tyranny.