Timothy Sandefur, Tamar Jacoby, John Tierney, Mike Baker, and The Independents Co-hosts Assess the Wisdom and Legality of Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration


You could organize your thinking about President Barack Obama's proposed executive actions on immigration into four questions: 1) Is it constitutional? (Shikha Dalmia says yes, Andrew Napolitano says probably not.) 2) Would it produce a good policy result? (Dalmia again with a yes, Planet Conservative with a Hell No.) 3) Is it wise from a political and small-d democratic point of view. (Peter Suderman, for one, has his doubts.) And 4) Does it significantly address the root problem of our messed-up immigration system? (I'll take this: Not remotely, no. We need to focus on more legal visas first, not ever-more creative ways to deal with the problems created by not having enough legal visas.)

My answers to 1-3 are, roughly: 1) Probably, though putting the words "probably" and "constitutional" in the same sentence is usually a dealbreaker. 2) Maybe 70-30? It's not too hard to see negative consequences in the absence of other reforms, though perhaps it's heartless to rate the lifting of deportation-fear for millions of people as only worth 7 points out of 10. 3) I for one vote no. In part, because the president (in my understanding) already has the power to engage in prosecutorial discretion; he just wants to make a big stink.

Which is a point I attempted to make on last night's episode of The Independents, in a segment alongside New York Times science writer John Tierney and ex-CIA operator Mike Baker:

On Tuesday's show, Kennedy chewed over questions 1 and 3 with Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, and Timothy Sandefur, principal attorney of the Pacific Legal Foundation:

Reason has a rich treasure trove of immigration-related material, including this special August 2006 issue, a memorable October 2008 flow-chart of how legal immigration works, and a recent eBook edited by Shikha Dalmia. Below, you can enjoy a Reason TV playlist: