Immigration

Tyrant or Liberator? The Pundits React to Obama's Immigration Plan

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Obama
White House

President Obama's announcement last night of new executive action that would legalize an estimated 4-5 million illegal immigrants has enraged the conservative commentariat as much as it has placated the liberal punditocracy. Libertarians, meanwhile, had a wider range of reactions: Many are pleased with the actual policy but concerned that it came about through even more executive overreach.

Making the libertarian case that Obama's decision falls well within established legal precedent, here is Ilya Somin (a George Mason University law professor, Cato Institute scholar, and Volokh Conspiracy blogger):

Article II of the Constitution states that the president must "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." But that does not mean that the president has an absolute duty to prosecute all violations of federal law, or that he cannot choose which ones to pursue based on policy considerations. If it did, virtually every president in the last century or more would be in violation. …

To the extent that large-scale use of prosecutorial discretion is ever appropriate, it is surely so in the case of helping people whose only violation of the law is fleeing poverty and oppression under terrible Third World governments. Few other offenders have such a compelling moral justification for breaking the law. I strongly support the legalization of marijuana and the abolition of the War on Drugs more generally. But illegal immigrants violating the law to escape Third World conditions are considerably more deserving of our compassion than college students violating it to experiment with marijuana or other illegal drugs. If exemption from prosecution is acceptable for the latter, it should be permitted for the former too.

Somin argues that all presidents must set uneven enforcement priorities—it's simply impossible to do other wise. The president's decision to focus on certain categories of lawbreakers instead of others can hardly be deemed illegal. Plenty of laws considered silly by the authorities go unenforced. That may be a problem in and of itself—and it's made worse by the sheer volume of federal laws—but now is a strange time for libertarians to make that argument, given that the outcome of not enforcing restrictive immigration laws is liberty-maximizing.

Eric Posner, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, wrote that immigration enforcement is unlike other aspects of the law and is uniquely the purview of the executive branch:

Thus, the president's discretion to enforce the immigration laws has always been the cornerstone of a de facto guest-worker (or, if you want, caste) system from which most Americans have greatly benefited. That's why Republicans' claim that the president is shredding the Constitution sounds so odd to people knowledgeable about immigration law. He's just doing what countless Congresses have wanted him to do, and have effectively forced him to do, so that Congress itself could avoid charges that it has created a two-tier system of citizenship where the bottom tier is allowed to stay in this country and work, but is not allowed to vote, to benefit from welfare programs, to travel freely, or to enjoy the full protection of workplace laws. Of course, you might say that the whole illegal immigration system, with its two-tier system of rights, violates the Constitution or at least constitutional values, but the fault for that lies with Congress, not with the president.

On the right, conservatives accused the president of unilateral tyranny. National Review's Rich Lowry set the tone:

Altogether it would have been a wholly adequate pitch for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, in the normal give-and-take over proposed legislation. But he's out of that business. Now he proposes and disposes, and the only alternative is assent.

This charge was echoed and amplified by a host of Republican politicians. Sen. Ted Cruz called Obama "a monarch." Rep. Michele Bachmann called him "a dictator." Speaker John Boehner's office referred to him as "Emperor Obama."

Even Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-leaner seen as more sympathetic to immigration reform than many other Republicans, accused the president of "lawlessness" and attempting to issue "executive amnesty." He wrote on Facebook:

President Obama is not above the law and has no right to issue Executive Amnesty. His actions blatantly ignore the Separations of Powers and the principles our country was founded on. The President has said 22 times previously that he does not have the power to legislate on immigration. 

I believe that immigration reform is needed, however for true and effective reform, we must first secure the border. I will not sit idly by and let the President bypass Congress and our Constitution.

The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin criticized the notion that other presidents have taken similar paths on immigration reform:

His assertion that other presidents have done the same is patently false, something the former constitutional law instructor should know.  No, in other cases the presidents acted to interpret existing law as Congress authorized them to do. And the huge number of the persons affected by Obama's actions in and of itself sets a new and disturbing precedent.  In short, prior presidents were not operating in direct contravention of law that Congress refused to change.

Just about the only hint of praise on the right came from the editors of the conservative New York Sun in a terrific editorial extolling the virtues of sane immigration policies:

President Obama's immigration speech last night could yet go down as his finest hour. No doubt there are those who will retort that this isn't saying a whole lot, given the disappointments of his presidency. But we are among those on the right who reckon that if we want — as we do — the free movement of trade and capital we also need the free movement of labor. Nor does the free movement of people burden our economy. The virtue of our system of democratic capitalism is that incents individuals to produce more than they consume, so that the more is the merrier.

Moving leftward, Andrew Sullivan expressed similar sentiments:

The paradox of living somewhere and building a life and knowing that it can all be suddenly swept away; the thought of being separated from those you love – for ever; the stresses within families and marriages that such a shadowy existence can create. We need a full-throated defense of immigration in these cramped and narrow times, and the president was more than eloquent on that tonight – and made his case with a calm assurance and intensity. I'm gladdened by it – and I can only begin to appreciate how his words will have felt to millions of others.

The Atlantic's Peter Beinart wrote that the president's announcement was all about living up to his progressive activist roots:

For progressives, this was always the real promise of Barack Obama. It was the promise that a black man with a Muslim name who had worked in Chicago's ghettos—a man who had tasted what it means to a stranger in America—would bring that memory with him when he entered the White House. It's a promise he fulfilled on Thursday night.

Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was willing to admit that the president had flip-flopped on the legality of such action, at the very least:

"Well, here's what I say," said Carney. "I think if he could have those words back, especially the first clip where he specifically talked about suspending deportations–that is literally what he is doing today. In later instances including when I was there he would speak carefully about what he could not do as president. He can't change the law. He can't provide a path to citizenship."

Important questions remain about what the actual impact of this policy will be. Does Obama's sucessor now have the express power to roll back this exact enforcement decision? If he does, many immigrants might wisely decide to pass on Obama's call to become legal citizens. Better than that register with the government and face deportation two years from now under a President Cruz or Perry.

At Reason, we love immigration but hate executive overreach, so things like this will always be something of a mixed bag. Peter Suderman thought the plan was "legal but unprecedented." Matt Welch was critical of Obama's definition of the word amnesty and wrote: "People really resent line-jumpers when the queue stretches back as far as the eye can see; speed up that process and our national debate would look a lot more reasoned and thoughtful."

Since I despise the enforcement of expansive, confusing, and cruel laws, I personally count this as one of the president's more gratifying decisions.

What say you?

[Edit: Links added for Sullivan and Beinart pieces.]

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  1. so that Congress itself could avoid charges that it has created a two-tier system of citizenship where the bottom tier is allowed to stay in this country and work, but is not allowed to vote, to benefit from welfare programs, to travel freely, or to enjoy the full protection of workplace laws.

    Posner’s comment is completely stupid. No one forced the immigratnts to come here. And the Contitution specifically grants Congress and the Federal government the power to control immigration. So there is no “two tiered system”. There is just people who chose to come here over the objection of the government. The fact that the government is unable to stop them or doesn’t go to every effort even if it could is not creating a two tiered system. Posner’s argument is that because the government can’t deport every illegal alien it is therefore obligated to grant full citizenship to all legal aliens or be subject to the charge of creating a two tiered system with an underclass of people without full right. People that the government told not to come and tried to stop but were unable to. That is fucking nuts.

    1. That they came here is a result of economic realities (evidently you didn’t read the full article which I linked you to yesterday). Now that they’re here, there is a caste system that you benefit from. The interesting question to me is whether the US can be a dominant economy without and underclass of low-wage (or no-wage) workers. We’ve never tried it.

      1. If they don’t like not having full rights, they can always leave. Again, no one made them come here. Even if you think it is a good idea to grant them citizenship, being a good idea is not the same as it being a moral imperative to do so. Posner is arguing that it is and he is fucking nuts.

        1. The minor infraction of being in the US while not going through the decade-long process of maybe becoming a citizen does not justify the deliberate maintenance of an exploitative caste system.

          1. You’re right. The caste system where I pay taxes to educate the children of people who broke in illegally is quite exploitative.

            1. having a tax system is exploitative period

        2. I’ll be the contrarian and say that non-voting immigrants do have “full rights” wrt the federal government insofar as we properly understand Constitutions to limit the powers of the state rather than describing the rights of the people. The federal government can’t constitutionally deprive anyone, citizen or not, of his or her rights without due process.

          As for the one-person, one-vote argument, the idea that someone who spends thousands of hours studying political philosophy and issues should have his vote canceled by an 18-year-old whose political awareness consists of six hours of watching Jon Stewart is obviously nuts. Once you strip democracy of its religious and weirdly moral overtones, it’s just tyranny of the rationally irrational majority where ideological minorities get screwed via the legal process.

          There’s nothing admirable about that in the least, which is a concept that even a bunch of old white slavemongers who lived 1,000 years ago understood.

          1. I should have said tyranny of the majority’s elected representatives.

            The entire electoral system is established such that voters have every incentive to know very little about what their elected officials are up to.

    2. Posner co-authored The Executive Unbound. Here’s a synopsis from Amazon:

      The authors chart the rise of executive authority straight through to the Obama presidency. Political, cultural and social restraints, they argue, have been more effective in preventing dictatorship than any law. The executive-centered state tends to generate political checks that substitute for the legal checks of the Madisonian constitution.

      So it takes an almost dictator, no a constitution, to prevent a real dictator. Or something.

      1. Political, cultural and social restraints, they argue, have been more effective in preventing dictatorship than any law. The executive-centered state tends to generate political checks that substitute for the legal checks of the Madisonian constitution.

        I guess we know where the American Stalin advocates went.

        Hundreds of pages dedicated to the principle that post-Lincolnian executive authority–encompassing not just the actions of Lincoln, but Wilson, FDR, and literally every post-FDR president–is held in check by “cultural” and “social” constraints?

        It disturbs me that these people breathe the same air that I do. As you note, the argument here seems to be that the best we can hope for is an Obama/Bush-style authoritarian who believes and acts as though he possesses the legitimate power to detain & torture or detain & kill “terrorists” with no judicial oversight or legislative authority.

        But as long as he steps down at the end of his two terms, he’s not a dictator. This is several steps removed from flat-earthism on the sliding scale of inane contentions.

    3. No one forced the immigratnts to come here.

      This is why I want to know why anti-amnestyites keep falling for the notion that the plight of illegals and “broken families” is America’s problem to solve.

      “Yo, I crashed the border, got comfy, and now I want to stay. What are you going to do about it?” The anti-amnestyites’ response is always full of squirming and apologies mixed with “those who stood in line” and “the rule of law.”

      I wish just once someone would hold off on responding until the gate-crasher would explain why this is MY problem. If I want that same guy to cut my lawn — FOR FREE — is it my problem, or his?

      1. My response is to deport them. I find the concerns about broken families to be completely uncompelling. If they are worried about their families, take them with them.

        1. Never mind that there is no concern about why there are so many broken American families. Our own people aren’t as important to the politicians as the criminal aliens are.

  2. Suppose a nation overthrows its nobility — the prior class of nobles exists among them as commoners with equal rights and a state of liberty declared. After many generations, the number of people who can trace their ancestry to some noble is a large portion, perhaps a majority, of the population. The dethroned nobles, having none of the skills to thrive in a post-feudal world, pass down their skills and beliefs to much of their progeny. Their descendants move to restore the nobility, and already progress has been made — there is a hiring preference for nobles, various funds are disbursed to the nobles and it is illegal to criticize a noble in public in a way that is deemed demeaning. The common folk and the nobles have a mock civil war every 4 years which determines how the country will be governed — the winner being the side which amasses the larger army.

    A number of deposed nobility abroad requests asylum every year. Being a mixed sort, most do not have partisan interest in this spat or share a common ‘noble’ heritage with Freedonians or each other. Many of the minor nobles have more in common with Freedonian commoners than nobles. Nonetheless, it is of far greater benefit to associate with and identify as a noble, and this is greatly encouraged by the nobility. Most emigrants tepidly identify with the nobility, and their children and grandchildren grow up proudly considering themselves nobles, with the attendant chauvinist attitudes towards the would-be serfs.

    [Cont]

    1. Violent revolutions cause an increase in the nobles requesting asylum, and a law is proposed: general asylum for all nobles. Their children can choose which of the two armies they will be a part of. Nobles are thrilled, suggest commoners are in favor of the slaughter of nobles if they oppose the law. A bright young stranger suggests that these nobles will benefit Freedonia’s economy, and notes that it is not illegal for a commoner to employ a noble. For this reason, the general asylum should be codified and enshrined as the highest law in all of Freedonia and no other aspects of how this will effect Freedonia should be considered. Given this:

      1) Should the Freedonians intentionally ignore any political impact when assessing the merits of this law, as the stranger suggests? If so, why?

      2) Assuming that the answer to the above are yes, is it a sufficiently important law that it should prevail if in conflict with any of the other Freedonian principles and laws?

      3) Is it “collectivist” to extrapolate a likely outcome from the scenario as presented?

      4) Is it a fair expectation that Freedonians not be made to pay the costs (political and otherwise) of the population that it is hosting, as a prerequisite for further debate?

    2. Well, he let’s it slip John in his opening. Progs try to force everything through their own warped lens:

      Thus, the president’s discretion to enforce the immigration laws has always been the cornerstone of a de facto guest-worker (or, if you want, caste) system from which most Americans have greatly benefited.

  3. I apologize for reposting a comment in another thread, but I think this is germane to the discussion we will have here:

    There’s a reason for this (and I recognize it because it is my ex-wife’s go to method for dealing with defeats):

    People with the cluster of disorders that include narcissistic personality disorder thrive on emotional chaos. In the case of NPD, the disordered person attempts to control and dominate people around them, and a very succesful strategy is to rile them up and push them into a state where they are reacting emotionally rather than in a sober and measured way.

    To do this, the NPD sufferer creates artificial crises. Often he or she expresses reasonable ideas in a manner designed to offend or outrage, and if confronted will use the reasonableness of what they are proposing as a way of further demeaning the people he or she is trying to unbalance.

    This entire immigration policy battle is an example of that. He could simply ask Congress to tackle the matter. Instead Obama offensively demands action while pissing off the people whom he is trying to dominate so that they will be unable to come to the consensus that is needed for them to act.

    There is no change in urgency or severity in the problem; it is just as much a problem today as it was two months ago. He is trying to unbalance Congress so that he can dominate it – because he lost their respect after the mid term election losses.

  4. To be fair, he is liberating us from representative government.

    1. And liberating us from economic, social, and civil stability-purposefully.

  5. Thus, the president’s discretion to enforce the immigration laws has always been the cornerstone of a de facto guest-worker (or, if you want, caste) system from which most Americans have greatly benefited. That’s why Republicans’ claim that the president is shredding the Constitution sounds so odd to people knowledgeable about immigration law.

    I am knowledgeable about immigration law and find Posner’s claim patently absurd. Yes the executive has all kinds of discretion with regards to immigration. They can grant people parole and just let them in because maybe the country they came from is in complete chaos and it is not possible to return them. The executive can choose where to go after illegals and where not to. Maybe we spend our efforts cleaning out the prisons instead of the schools. But what the exectutive cannot do and never has been able to do is create new classes of legal immigrants that don’t exist in statute. Obama is not granting parole to people scooped up by ICE. He is not telling some people “hey don’t worry we won’t go after you right now”. He is going ot print out government cards and grant a new legal status that has no basis in statute. And Posner has to know that and is just lying and pretends Obama isn’t doing that because he figures the rest of us are too stupid to know any better. Posner is Judge Gruber I guess.

    1. Eric Posner is pretty much always in favor of extensive Executive powers.

      1. Yeah. He is a very entertaining legal writer. But he is a real shit head when it comes to exectutive power.

        The other thing about him is that he is the founder of the law and economics school of thinking. There are worse legal theories out there. But, his values efficiency and pricing over all else. His commitment to law and ecoomics often casues he to forget any competing values like democratic legitimacy or separation of powers or limited government.

        1. Maybe a dead thread, John, but when you mention, “founder of the law and economics school of thinking,” aren’t you talking about Richard Posner, not Eric?

          Dick Posner, I read a few times to make sure why I’m disagreeing with him, based on other times I’ve skimmed his opinions and came out with a hasty flawed opinion of them. Eric Posner hasn’t written anything that I think merits the same sort of deference.

          1. Gray Ghost,

            You are right. I am conrfusing my Posners. Richard is who I am thinking of. Good catch.

    2. We already aren’t going after and deporting most illegal immigrants.

    3. I wouldn’t call it a legal status, just a quasi-legal one. This status exists only at his pleasure. If he were granting pardons, that would be not only Constitutional but irrevocable.

    4. Choosing not to enforce the law is the president’s prerogative. Declaring the lawbreakers immigrants in good standing henceforth and forevermore is not.

    5. “Obama is not granting parole to people scooped up by ICE. He is not telling some people “hey don’t worry we won’t go after you right now”. He is going ot print out government cards and grant a new legal status that has no basis in statute.”

      But that is exactly what he is telling them. He’s not giving them any sort of legal status; as with DACA, they are in a sort of legal limbo, specifically not granted lawful status, but also not accumulating unlawful presence.

      I thought he had the power to do this with DACA, and I thought he had the power to do this latest move. However, after hearing the clips of him specifically denying he had the power to do this last move, now I’m really wanting to hear what changed.

  6. So why isn’t he using the same executive action to stop the War on Drugs?!

    1. “Jerry, come on out of those shadows!”

    2. That’s where the money is.

    3. Mr. Obama isn’t, but Mr. Paul could use the same logic when he’s president.

  7. Somin argues that all presidents must set uneven enforcement priorities?it’s simply impossible to do other wise [sic].

    Emphasis added. Let the congress give the president a new bill requiring all laws, new and existing, to have sunset provisions. Perhaps an expiration date of two years might be a starting point for compromise.

    1. Before someone smacks me — yes, I’m trolling.

      But there are too many effin’ laws.

      1. What are you talking about? Legislation takes time and effort to craft! You can’t just go and repeal it! That’s an insult to the legislators who worked to write it! Do that and what incentive will there be to create legislation if two years down the road it may be repealed? No, the answer to shitty legislation is more shitty legislation! More, more, more!

        1. Very well.

          Let every piece of legislation be at most three pages.

          And no tricks!

          1. I remember a short SciFi story from some years ago where all laws had to go through a Board of Dunces- the logic is that if we are responsible for obeying the laws, they have to be written in such a way that an ordinary individual can understand them.

        2. I don’t think legislators write legislation, their staffs do.

      2. Trolling? I’ve been saying that seriously for years. Though I’ve been nice enough to make it a 5 year sunset.

        1. Well, it was more about the “existing laws” part.

        2. Furthermore, any statute not cited in the prosecution or civil fine of any person in more than five years may not be renewed. No more laws on the books just in case they need them to bully and harass.

          1. “All statutes are hereby cited.”

            1. Nope. Must be cited by name. That will keep at least two courts busy for the entire five years, just drafting the indictments.

              1. Brett, you always move the goalposts!

                *** kicks pebble ***

                1. Come kick the football again, Rich! I won’t move this time!

    2. The enforcement priority argument is the most disengenious one being made. What makes it so mendacious is that it slips in the assumption that enforcing immigration law is somehow different than any other law. The argument is “we can’t enforce the law completely and we have to have priorities so therefore lets just give people we like effective immunity from prosecution under the law”

      That sounds nice until you apply to any other law. We can’t stop all human trafficing, so lets give everyone over the age of 25 who wants one a “federal human trafficing lisence” and effective immunity from prosecution so we can prioritize stopping the trafficing of minors. Lets give everyone from the Carribean a free drug smuggling license so we can concentrate on stopping drugs coming from Mexico.

      Those formulations don’t work very well.

      1. “We can’t catch every speeder, so let’s just not enforce speed limits.”

        Actually, as an inveterate speeder, I’m perfectly OK with that….never mind.

        1. It is different than that. We still will be deporting plenty of people. It is that we are going to give cards and immunity to a group of people the exectutive have decided can freely ignore the law. So the proper formulation is

          “We can’t catch every speeder, so lets give everyone who has been driving for more than ten years a special sticker to put on their car that tells cops to not enforce the speeding laws against them”.

          That is what is going on here.

          1. Yes! *** pumps fist ***

          2. Do you think we should spend the resources necessary to catch every speeder? Discretion is practiced in a different way for that but it’s still discretion. Cops leave some stretches of road unattended. Drivers on that road are effectively allowed to get away with the crime. The only difference is the conditions set on immigration have basic human empathy behind them. Why does that make it bad?

            1. Drivers on that road are effectively allowed to get away with the crime.

              MORE DRONES!

            2. Tony you are an idiot. Prioritizing enforcement is not the same as telling one group “you are now immune”. So you are either too stupid to understnad my point or too dishonest to admit it. Either way, stop trolling the threads with irrelevent arguments that miss the point.

              1. It’s not exactly the same but it’s not enough of a difference to get hysterical about. Would you prefer the president prioritize enforcement of immigration law more randomly? Say by not paying attention to criminal status and such?

                1. I’m all for him exercising discretion in deportations, but he made it baldly political by advertising it and telling a whole group of illegal immigrants that he won’t deport them in hopes of further securing the Latino vote for the Dems. If he quietly pivoted resources towards only deporting violent criminals it would be different, but extending psudo-legal status to an entire group for blatantly political reasons is different.

          3. We can’t catch every speeder, so lets give everyone who has been driving for more than ten years a special sticker to put on their car that tells cops to not enforce the speeding laws against them”.

            And for those of us in Houston, we call that sticker, “The 100 Club.

      2. That’s true. If the classes of persons affected could be divided on the basis of which ones cost the most in enforcement or otherwise have the most adverse side effects in enforcement, or which ones the lack of enforcement on have the least adverse effect, then an executive policy could be crafted in good faith. One could say that of the federal policy apparently in place regarding marijuana enforcement. But here he’s saying, in effect, take a number to determine your place in the enforcement priority.

        1. He’s also saying: “those who’ve broken the law for more than the prescribed period are now immune from the law they’ve broken.” It’s a bonus for successfully breaking the law long term.

      3. The formulations where those in power give the people they like effective immunity from prosecution under the law HAS worked very well-for the politician and those in their favored groups.

      4. But we do this all the time; we ignore small time criminals, or give them immunity, in order to get the bigger fish.

    3. I would rather impose a 100-year moratorium on new laws.

  8. Also (mentioned in an earlier thread), O’s order is made public I consider his um, pontification last night basically hot air to troll the GOP.

  9. For progressives, this was always the real promise of Barack Obama. It was the promise that a black man with a Muslim name who had worked in Chicago’s ghettos?a man who had tasted what it means to a stranger in America?would bring that memory with him when he entered the White House. It’s a promise he fulfilled on Thursday night.

    Barf.

    At least we can all agree on that, right?

    1. Not so fast, there, MJ. The man did a lot of choom.

      1. So he didn’t bring the memory?

        1. What memory? 😉

    2. The only memory he has brought with him is being a fuck up who is excused by people who very badly want him to succeed.

    3. Beinart gets it. The progressive project is to make America less American. What bugs me is the people here who are willing to go along with it.

      The cosmos are afraid to admit that there is anything particularly good about America (because RACISM). They pretend to themselves that libertarianism can just spring up from anywhere, and that our unique historical circumstances have nothing to do with it.

      Is America still America if it’s populated by Third World peasants? I guess we’re about to find out.

      1. The are cultural leftists even though they are not political ones. It never dawns on them that their embrace of cultural leftism and the language of the left is why the left always wins the argument. The concept that culture and language are just the battleground upon which politics is fought and the side that gets to choose the ground on an issue almost always wins is beyond them. They just want to be cool and be accpeted.

        1. To be fair, I guess I could be considered a cultural leftist.

          I use as little energy as possible.

          I recycle most things; not in bins, but in art or construction of other projects (plastic bags for cat litter, wood for burning or repairs, metal for various other projects, etc).

          I don’t eat a lot of fast food.

          I try not to generate a lot of trash.

          Most of these things I do for my own benefit (ie: I hate taking trash to dump, so I try not to produce much). So take that for what you will.

          1. If you’re not hot on coercing others to do these things, you’re not on the cultural left.

      2. Beinart gets it. The progressive project is to make America less American. What bugs me is the people here who are willing to go along with it.

        The cosmos are afraid to admit that there is anything particularly good about America (because RACISM). They pretend to themselves that libertarianism can just spring up from anywhere, and that our unique historical circumstances have nothing to do with it.

        Is America still America if it’s populated by Third World peasants? I guess we’re about to find out.

        Literally every single word of this, with the exception of Beinart and cosmos, could have been written about the Irish in 1850. And hell, there was probably even a guy named Beinart.

        1. That is a great point except that it isn’t 1850 and we are not talking about the Irish.

          1. And at that point we wanted more workers in our country, which is one of the large and legitimate reasons to lure masses to come to your country.

            1. And there was a commitment to assimilate those workers into being Americans. Culturally. We don’t do that anymore. We also had a frontier that needed settling. The welfare state in 1850 didn’t exist.

              True, illegals pay taxes. Some of them. Does the taxes they pay come anywhere close to the amount of services they and their relatives consume? I don’t know if you’ve looked at the U.S Budget recently, but we’re fucking broke. And it’s about to get worse.

              Whole lot of differences between the America of 1850, and their Know-Nothing views, and the America of 2014. Truthfully, what I’d really love to see is the mass importation of hundreds of thousands of IT workers, say, the entire graduating classes of IIT and its ilk for the last 20 years, watch the wage crash in that field, and see if any of our Open Borders stalwarts change their tune.

              (Never mind any secondary effects like needing to know Bengali, Hindi, and/or Gujarati in order to get a job, the same way you’re pissing up a rope trying to find a construction job in this country if you don’t speak Spanish.)

              “Dey took ur jerbs,” may be insufficient by itself to justify trade barriers, but it’s an understandable point of view for those who are saying it to you. If you want to get these people on your side, you need a better strategy than laughing at them.

              1. Oh, I thought you really wanted lots of skilled low-wage programmers, to make Apps less expensive and expand America’s reach as a tech powerhouse.

        2. We’ll turn you all into Catholics yet!

      3. Being from the San Joaquin Valley in CA, I can answer your final questions.
        No.
        There are places in the Central Valley that look and feel just like Mexico, because people come to America without wanting to embrace the values that have made this country less shitty than most and they are enabled by limp-wrist progressives who lack the backbone or balls to admit that some cultures are incompatible with modern, function, liberal society. People can be as fucked up as they please on their own property with their own clan, but collectivist cultures such as Mexican culture spread their fuckery beyond the individual.

        1. lack the backbone or balls to admit that some cultures are incompatible with modern, function, liberal society.

          They admit it to themselves in private. They’d rather die than send their kids to the same schools as those flea-bitten Mexican kids who are now being introduced to Common Core math.

      4. There is something uniquely good about America. But it’s not based on the race of the majority of American citizens, or the legal/illegal status of them as immigrants or descendents of legal/illegal immigrants. What’s unique about America is the idea of freedom, and opportunity for all.

        Is America still America if it’s populated be neo-European soccer-loving progressive hipsters? Only if the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are still in place and people still remember what they were supposed to mean.

  10. Who has been liberated? Obama is stretching Executive authority to pander to Latinos by keeping millions in legal limbo. He’s not a tyrant or liberator. He’s a shithead who fucks up everything he touches.

    1. ^This!

      He announced his intentions in prime time to ensure maximum effect. This is about the 2016 election an little else.

      1. Ruben Navarette agrees. I was glad to see a shameless tribalist admit it.

  11. Upon much reflection, this strikes me as a big nothing burger in terms of actual impact, whether re: a “ZOMFG Constitutional Crisis!!11one1!” or “FREEEEDUMMMMMMMZ!”

    Nothing much changes. This can all be undone or redone or done more by other actions, or the next President. We’re so far beyond “rule of law” in this country that the ACTUAL IMPACT of this is pretty small potatoes. Which is kind of sad.

    But in the grand scheme of things, this is the classic shiny object deflecting attention from kind of big stuff like the surveillance state, the budget-based-on-borrowing that inevitably cannot be paid back, the Team-Be-Ruled regulatory state, military power being used the world over to the GREAT satisfaction of the rest of the world, etc. etc. ad mauseum.

    So – meh. I don’t really give a fuck. I’m not gonna get all excited that the President is a narcissistic, lying, power grabbing piece of shit, CAUSE I ALREADY KNOW THAT. This is kind of not a big deal, no big impact in real life, I think, so….

    next.

    1. Also, what Rich said above much more economically than I – I think the Bamster’s trolling the GOP to do something stupid like I’ve already hear Bachman propose.

      Don’t take the bait, GOP….but, Team Stupid gonna Stupid, I think…we shall see.

      1. I think you are right. It is not going to help many Latinos and is not what they wanted. The GOP needs to shut up and let them figure that out.

        As far as the rest of the country, pass a bill to stop this, let Obama veto it, then when the Democrats refuse to override it, tell the country “if you don’t like what Obama is doing, take it up with your local Democratic Congressman or Senator since only they can stop him and they refuse to do so”. Leave the Democrats with a disappointed and angry Latino community that feels it was sold a fraud and an angry rest of the country that holds the Democrats responsible for not stopping Obama.

        1. Yes. I said something similar the other day in the Indies threat. The goal here seems to be nothing to do with practical immigration reforms, and entirely playing ‘chicken’ with the GOP to see if they will bite and attempt introducing inflammatory legislation that will tie up the american public around this topic *rather* than the myriad other issues which keep the focus on the retardation of the Democrats, a la the Healthcare disaster.

    2. in the grand scheme of things, this is the classic shiny object deflecting attention from kind of big stuff

      Well said. 8-(

      1. LOOK! A CHICKEN!

        1. IT MIGHT HAVE EBOLA!

    3. Obama likes to make a mess, point at it, and blame somebody else. That’s all he’s doing here. He’s hoping the Republicans react to it instead of doing anything constructive.

      He’s our saboteur President.

      1. Exactly. He’s heated a potato and tossed it at the Republicans. They could catch it with their bare hands or they could position a bucket of cold water.

    4. Exactly.

      The real ‘negatives’ with it are mostly “procedural” – it seems to only build on Bush’s excesses of Executive Authority, and the worst thing about it is that the population doesn’t skwawk and reject unilateral use of authority as entirely undemocratic.

      from a practical standpoint – as i previously noted, the ‘amnesty’ offered is not that different than what current law provides theoretical access to. I doubt the ‘millions’ for whom it applies are going to necessarily take him up on it. However, i think the optics of the move may certainly inspire a whole lot of less detail-oriented people to come rushing here ASAP to see if they can get in on the Freedom Gravy Train.

      But again – no, its not by itself a major thing aside from its anti-democratic use of power, particularly in the context of a subject around which there is very strong opinion in either direction.

  12. “But illegal immigrants violating the law to escape Third World conditions are considerably more deserving of our compassion … ”

    Abolish the welfare state … then we’ll talk.

    1. Yeah, this, too, also.

    2. Ilya Somin doesn’t disagree with you on the size of the State.

    3. What?! Then *we’ll* be like the Third World!

        1. HoA is nice this time of year. Maybe if more people visited opinions would change.

    4. I’m very suspicious of anyone who suggests an increase in low-income immigration without a change in welfare or acculturation.

      1. Typical onset for Paranoid Schizophrenia is white males in their 30’s.

        1. My previous comment was a joke, because I’m suspicious of pretty much anyone that advocates any government action.

      2. Did you miss the part about how immigrants tend to contribute to our welfare state while not taking from it? Social Security is actually more solvent because of illegal immigrants than it would be otherwise.

        1. Yes I missed that part. Please add citations with numbers not cosmotarian quotes.

    5. Let the welfare state go broke. Hasten its demise. Then we’ll talk.

  13. No comparisons to the Declaration of Indulgence?

    1. No. The Bible this time. Refudidate this.

      1. Not sure whether he was quoting the Bible or the Quran. There is the same principle in Hebrew scripture, alright, though his paraphrase sounded unfamiliar to me. But then, I’m no Bible scholar.

        1. I should have said “scripture.” I think it was the Torah.

  14. One thing that would be nice to come out of this is for Congress to undelegate some of the frankly unconstitutional delegations of legislative power it’s handed over to the executive over the years. It’s ridiculous to let one guy and some bureaucrats do what is supposed to be the sole province of the Congress.

    1. But ProL, then we might hold congresscritters liable for their actions!

      1. And where would that leave the children of the employees of the IRS and the EPA?

    2. Hey! They’re not called “delegates” for nothing!

    3. CTRL-F “the Secretary shall…” Delete.

      Now there’s a job for the new congress.

      1. Maybe the function of issuing regulations should be housed in Congress. Congress could retain that portion of the administrative agencies, and regulations could be promulgated through the same process as laws.

        1. What you mean is, Congress should not enact unnecessarily vague statutes that need regulation to be fleshed out.

          Some administrative regulatory authority is required by statutes that aren’t vague but require licensure for permissions of various sorts. But there are others that are just plain vague and delegate law-making power.

          1. I do, but I think there might be an option to have Congress actually have specialized rulemaking teams for agencies that Congress controls, but that have to push their rules through the same process that Schoolhouse Rock implemented in the 70s.

            1. ” but that have to push their rules through the same process that Schoolhouse Rock implemented in the 70s.”

              By making trains out of words?

              1. No, it was that other one, the E Plebnista one.

  15. . If it did, virtually every president in the last century or more would be in violation. …

    Perhaps the executive branch ought to petition for congress to repeal some laws then?

    Also, with 4 TRILLION dollars available to it, how is it even fucking possible to consider the Federal Government doesn’t have the resources?

    1. The resources to do what? Go into the homes of ten million people, take them from their families, and put them on a train?

      1. Not what I said. Try again.

        1. That’s why I asked.

          1. No, you begged the question. You didn’t actually ask anything without drawing a conclusion. If you wish to ask me “The resources to do what?” please don’t provide an answer for me. Also, you’ll note that you could simply review my statement for what it is: The Federal Government has the resources to pretty much do whatever it wants, much to my lament.

            1. That’s because he a prick. It’s his attempt to be clever and turn the conversation. His ilk is evil not because of what they believe, but because they want others to change based off of feelings.

      2. You know who else … Oh, never mind!

        1. WHO IS HITLER?!!!

          Right?! What do I win?

      3. You know who else put undesirables on trains?

  16. You watch, this’ll be turned into Obama’s “let my people go” moment.

    1. Hmm. What’s the *next* plague?

      1. The Wookie and the entire readership of Jezebel polluting the nation’s waterways with their crimson tide…

        1. +1 Art Exhibit

  17. “The paradox of living somewhere and building a life and knowing that it can all be suddenly swept away; the thought of being separated from those you love ? for ever; the stresses within families and marriages that such a shadowy existence can create”

    Fine, and Obo didn’t bother to address this.
    See that word “temporary” in Obo’s speech?

    1. The sob stories are less than compelling. Clearly, doing that was preferable to staying where they are. They choose to take the risk.

      If I moved out into some national park and started squatting and built a house and a life and one day the rangers showed up and ran me off, you could say the exact same thing about me. Hell, you could just as plausibly argue that national parks should be open to anyone as you can the country shouldn’t stop people from moving here.

      In both cases though, the person doing it knew the risks and assumed them. Sucks I suppose but it is hardly the sob story it is made out to be.

      1. The Homestead Act was repealed only in 1976. There’s an Elvis Presley movie based on the premise you laid out.

        1. Probably a Steven Spielberg movie about some hapless Tom Hanks character who lives in a tree.

  18. This is one of the few areas where I agree with Obama’s policy goals. I even think that what he did is technically legal. I still think it was a terrible move.

    Both Reagan and H.W. Bush had similar executive orders. These executive orders don’t change the law; they simply use the well-established concept of prosecutorial discretion to establish the “priorities” of what they are going to go after. The are a promise that certain crimes will be the lowest priority, such that they never get prosecuted. However, these protections are at the whim of the current President, and they are trivially reversed by a successor.

    I also agree with Suderman. What makes Obama’s move a terrible one is the environment. When Reagan and Bush did it, they did it in an environment where the Congress was already reforming and liberalizing the immigration system, and certain groups were left out. The Congress was already moving in the direction of the President, and laws were passed to make the President’s order a permanent part of the law. In this case, Obama is explicitly overriding the wishes of the legislature and that is really bad for our Republic.

    1. What are the wishes of Congress? Besides taking a paycheck and doing nothing?

      1. Because “Doing Something” is so much better?

        ‘Legislation! because Moar Law is Moar Better’

        Unless ‘repealing’ becomes popular, ‘Nothing’ is far preferred to activist Government larding up the tax code with more self-serving goodies.

        1. ^^^^^^

          what he said, + eleventy1.

      2. Yeah, Tony, people like you can’t understand that “doing nothing” is “doing something” if nothing is way better than something.

        (Abbott and Costello could do something with that sentence I’m thinking).

      3. I love how nobody can remember things that happened six fucking months ago. Congress wants certain smaller things, but no efforts to achieve compromise were possible because they conflicted with long-term Democratic strategy.

        http://thehill.com/homenews/se…..ack-senate

        House conservatives have opposed bringing immigration legislation to the House floor because they fear even a narrow bill could be used as a vehicle to jam the sprawling Senate bill through the House. That threat would be less dire if the Senate passed a series of smaller immigration reform bills.

        “It could pass if we break it down into smaller pieces,” said Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas). “[The House] has always been amenable to passing smaller bills on a step-by-step basis.”

        Once Congress passes legislation to tighten border security and interior enforcement, it could pave the way for a deal legalizing an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, expanding work visas and enlarging the flow of legal immigration, Senate Republicans argue.

        Democrats, however, would balk at reforming the nation’s immigration laws through a variety of separate bills.

        Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the lead author of the comprehensive Senate immigration bill, signaled Wednesday that Democrats would not be willing to join in such an effort.

        1. TYPICAL OBSTRUCTSHUNIST RETHUGLICANS!?!!

        2. This reminds me of Obama’s similar move in Oct/Nov 2013 when, after a showdown over ‘postponing’ the ACA implementation, and allowing a shutdown to ensue… he suddenly decided a month later that, “well, the ACA is actually shitting the bed”, and decides that ‘postponing full implementation’ may be needed.

          Your average Dem saw zero actual contradiction in this.

    2. But AFAIK, previous to now, classes of persons subject to enforcement priority were established by objective factors that could be said to be consistent with faithful execution of the laws, not by applying for a privilege!

    3. At least with prosecutional discretion you are pretending to follow the law. It’s just there are so many shitty laws you have to choose to enforce you have to triage.

  19. Next they’ll be telling me that since the govt can’t enforce campaign finance laws 100% perfectly, it is just prosecutorial discretion to have the IRS only go after the Tea Party.

    1. Obviously we just need to tax the rich more so we can enforce the law more fairly.

      /progderp

    2. Yes, prosecutorial discretion can be dangerously misused. In the cases like you mention, equal protection can come into play to hopefully stop that misuse.

      BTW, this same concept is what the administration is using to “allow” marijuana legalization to go forward in the several states.

    3. I would like a list of laws that are “unfair” and as such I can ignore. The amount of tax I pay in this shithole state I’m not a resident of, talking California, would make ignoring tax laws as a convenient truth.

  20. 33 years I have worked, Served my country for 20, and I have always been a productive American and never “TAKEN” from the people….

    BUT: this prick will do anything to waken the US economy in his never ending quest to destroy and remake America in his image.

    I mean 45% of legal immigrants are on Welfare… So now we are going to borrow money from China to pay for these Illegals????

    What part of illegals depress wages, pay little to no taxes, take jobs from Americans and in some case commit crimes. Do some of you idiots not understand this?

  21. I honestly don’t know. I don’t know enough about prosecutorial discretion.

    It seems to me that “faithfully execute the laws” includes doing so to the best of ones ability. So given limited resources, it seems entirely Constitutional for the president to prioritize which laws to enforce and which law breakers to go after. Enforcing immigration law certainly seems to be a case where the resources aren’t up to the task.

    But if I understand what he is doing correctly, it seems like this goes beyond simply de-priortizing certain immigrants. He is telling them to come forward, identify themselves, and receive temporary reprieve. That sort of seems to cross the line. Furthermore, he isn’t arguing that he has to do this to focus on real threats. He is arguing he has to do this because Congress won’t.

    I really don’t have a huge problem with granting amnesty or something very close to it. I want us to allow way more legal immigration. So I don’t disagree with the ends here. But the means seem to be treading very close to the line of unconstitutionality, if not crossing it entirely.

    1. LynchPin, good comment and I do need to educate myself more on the portion of the order you mention.

      I generally like the idea of prosecutorial discretion because by its nature, it causes government to NOT do something. It’s useful in the drug war. Of course, it’s based on the whims of whoever is in charge.

      1. I’m not sure how I feel about prosecutorial discretion. I recognize that it is a practical necessity in a world of limited resources. It seems like the better solution would be to go to Congress and tell them to either increase the resources or (more preferably from a libertarian perspective) repeal some laws. But if they refuse, then I guess prosecutorial discretion is the only other option, but it still isn’t the best one.

        I try not to allow my policy preferences (end the WOD, allow more immigration, etc.) to taint my view of it. Should we enforce unlibertarian but not unconstitutional laws? I think we probably should. Not doing so might seem nice at first, but I fear what lies down that road more than I fear a bad law.

        1. Well, I support jury nullification. Some people fear this could lead to a “lawless” society.

          I see prosecutorial discretion as pre-emptive nullification done by the state itself.

          1. I never thought of it like that. Interesting.

            Seems like something worth learning more about.

    2. You know enough about prosecutorial discretion to realize that this action, for what it’s worth, is not it. In particular, the issuance of work permits to people who do not qualify under the existing STATUTORY criteria is well beyond enforcement discretion. It is unconstitutional.

      1. Why do you say these people do not qualify under the existing statutory criteria for EADs? Category (C)14, for those recipients of deferred action, has long been a category of those eligible for work permits. It’s true DACA created the (C)33 category, and this new order may create a new one, but deferred action itself has been an acceptable means of obtaining EADs for years.

  22. But that does not mean that the president has an absolute duty to prosecute all violations of federal law, or that he cannot choose which ones to pursue based on policy considerations. If it did, virtually every president in the last century or more would be in violation. …

    I agree. Now since we have recognized a long standing problem let’s fix it. Also, the President is obligated to prosecute anything. However, if the Fed agencies that are obligated to do so won’t lets get rid of SNM agencies.

    1. Stupid fat fingers.

      Presidnet isn’t obligated …

  23. “What say you?”

    I say Obama should have announced meaningful proposals to make applying for citizenship easier and safer. It’ll take these 4-5 million illegal aliens at least half a decade to get their green card, meaning their deportation protection will run out by then.

    His executive actions are on based on notions of immigration that exist in the minds of activists and pundits – that a lot of them pick fruits for a living, are de facto Americans who know nothing of their homelands, and that there’s some epidemic of deportation going on. None of this really true.

    We deport something like….300,000 people a year? And most of them are convicted criminals, people caught near the border, and deported folks trying to sneak back in. Meanwhile there are as many people who are able to enter illegally, arriving on planes.

    There’s no intellectually honest debate on immigration from either side. Reason loves to expose non existent epidemics, but they left the deportation myth alone, for obvious reasons. Deportation is not even in the top 5 concerns of illegal aliens in this country. Asian illegals in most states are more worried that they might not qualify for financial aid to cover their tuition.

    Unless you do something really stupid and are caught, the chances of you getting deported are slim.

    1. Amen, brother. If you can’t tweet a concept or situation, you can’t discuss it in these United States. Sound bites everywhere.

  24. Jennifer Rubin is dead on. Andrew Sulllivan talks entirely about the “plight” of illegal immigrants and not one word about 1) who caused that situation to arise, 2) the impact on the country, especially on future illegal immigration, or 3) the impact on the concept of law.

    That said, what amazes me is that this announcement provides not even half-a-loaf for the advocates of open borders. It is a temporary stay of deportation. For fewer than half of the illegal immigrants here. It can be reversed any time. It leaves those who are willing to “come out of the shadows” (one of the most annoying usages of the past two decades) in a limbo little better than their existing status. I does, however, supply the information about who these people are and where they live to ICE. That should give the open border advocates pause.

    I think that this “amnesty” is even dumber than the 1986 amnesty-to-end-all-amnesties. At least that purported to resolves the then-current crisis and promised to act through employer and border enforcement to preclude further illegal immigration. (Intentional epic fail. That’s what led to the current 10-15 million illegal immigrants.)

    The 1986 amnesty was riddled with fraud and bureaucratic incompetence. I’d worry about that if I thought that many people would apply for this one.

    1. If you agree with Jennifer Rubin on anything, check your premises.

  25. Mostly, I worry about the future. We have announced in the loudest way possible that we will never, ever enforce our immigration laws. There are 6 billion people in the world, and a good number of them think this is Nirvana. While we clearly favor the Western Hemisphere Hispanic immigrants in our “prosecutorial discretion,” I wouldn’t be surprised if people all over the world didn’t start making plans. And please spare me the libertarian “open borders are a natural right” nonsense. We live in a welfare state where my earnings are appropriated to support and educate the underclass. Illegal immigration ensures a permanent underclass. (Contrast legal immigration, which requires proof of sustainability or refugee status. The legal immigrants tend to be the “new blood, entrepreneurial folks we keep hearing about. Even the Somalis, who arrived with nothing, are doing quite well in this country.)

    So, the President is pulling as big a smoke-and-mirrors sideshow here as he did with the ACA and its “you can keep your plan if you like it.”

    As for the immigration law being “cruel,” puhlease. The name of the website is REASON. Your suggestion that illegal immigrants are only illegal because the line is backed up is nonsense–few could have qualified in the first instance because we have standards about immigration, which every State has. The line is backed up because we have millions fraudulently seeking asylum and otherwise having to be processed.

  26. So to libertarians, following laws is up to the discretion of the individual. In other words, there is no rule of law. In the case of immigration, in particular, there shouldn’t be any law because there are people around the world who are used and abused by lawlessness so that in itself gives them the right to be lawless themselves, making them exactly like the people they are trying to get away from.

  27. The flotsam drifting across our borders is treating the US as some sort of lifeboat. How many will we take aboard before the lifeboat capsizes and sinks?

    Our unemployment rate is already much higher than the government will ever acknowledge. And yet we are vacuuming up these refugees to come compete for American jobs. And no bullshit about “they only do the jobs Americans don’t want to do”. Microsoft, Oracle and other tech companies have fired thousands of Americans so they can hire cheaper H1-B employees from other countries. Engineers graduating in America today have a tough time finding a job – but the importing of outsourcing ensures a constant supply of cheap labor to compete with Americans.

  28. my co-worker’s step-sister makes $69 hourly on the internet . She has been out of work for nine months but last month her pay check was $13181 just working on the internet for a few hours. Go Here this site….

    ????? http://www.netjob70.com

  29. my neighbor’s aunt makes $75 /hour on the laptop . She has been laid off for 7 months but last month her pay check was $18092 just working on the laptop for a few hours. read the article………. http://www.payflame.com

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