I was on a really nice date tonight — mostly just talked for hours — and then I came back post-date to this. The President has decided that he will no longer enforce valid immigration law, because he does not think it is good law. Notice that this is not an exercise of prosecutorial discretion, although it appears as one in form. It is an executive repeal of legislative law that was passed under and in no way violates the Constitutional compact. Don’t take it from me; take it from his Secretary of Homeland Security:
“I’ve been dealing with immigration enforcement for 20 years and the plain fact of the matter is that the law that we’re working under doesn’t match the economic needs of the country today and the law enforcement needs of the country today,” Napolitano told CNN. “But as someone who is charged with enforcing the immigration system, we’re setting good, strong, sensible priorities, and again these young people really are not the individuals that the immigration removal process was designed to focus upon.”
I wrote this immediately. I haven’t read the commentaries, I haven’t delved into the legal background, I haven’t glanced at the election impact. Maybe everyone on the Right is saying this; maybe I’m alone. But it’s from the heart:
I count myself deeply sympathetic to immigrants, and loyally trace my family line back to Kate Durkin, the bold Irish woman whose family shipped her here in the depths of the potato famine — because they could not feed her. She started with nothing, ended with little, and sacrificed everything to get our family on its feet. She came over in an era before immigration was at all restricted, and I know how broken our modern immigration system is. I have a lot of worries about the DREAM Act specifically, but I do, in general, support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Let them pay their debt to our society and get on with living.
All that being said, this order is a flagrant, brazen violation of President Obama’s oath of office. “I do solemnly swear,” he said three years ago, “that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” His office — his sole and highest duty — is to faithfully execute the law. That’s not me talking; that’s the Constitution. Presidents have bent the law, often, in service of dire needs, but to simply come out and announce that you, personally, have decided Congress is acting “too slowly” and isn’t showing enough compassion, and therefore you have decided to ignore valid law is — was — unthinkable. I’m frankly astonished, partly that the President is willing to do this, but mostly because he apparently believes he’ll get away with it. What should terrify all Americans is that he might.
President Obama likes to compare himself to President Lincoln. Lincoln, of course, faced secession and civil war, in what was undoubtedly the most momentous crisis our Union has ever faced. Nevertheless, in the face of possible military defeat and the destruction of the Constitution, Lincoln scrupulously upheld the law, both in the North and in the rebellious South, securing constitutional authority for even his harshest measures. At times, though, he agonized that he might one day be forced to violate the Constitution in order to save it: “Are all the laws but one to go unexecuted,” he once asked Congress, hypothetically, “and the Government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?”
President Obama might rephrase it, “Is the law itself to go unexecuted, and the Constitution itself go to pieces, lest I lose re-election?”
Make no mistake: while we may agree with the policy, this is an act of unadulterated tyranny. We cannot allow the policy itself to cloud our judgement. I have had many misgivings about the Obama presidency, as those on this blog are well aware, but never before has he so brazenly swept aside the rule of democracy in favor of his own self-aggrandizement. This is how the Roman Republic ended — not with military conquest, but by the People’s own abandonment of the messy, ugly Senate in favor of grand gestures and a momentary prosperity. This, to borrow a phrase, is how liberty dies: with thunderous applause.
Although various court precedents, especially those related to prosecutorial discretion, will likely make it impossible to successfully sue the President, Congress is not bound by those precedents, and is capable of — indeed, required — to consider the president’s actions as a jury, not as a federal judicial panel, and, in the case, the difference is damning. Our Republic puts in place a simple mechanism for responding to the high crimes and misdemeanors of a wayward president, which (as Franklin argued) spares us the grief of the Roman alternative: assassination. For the sake of the country, Democrats and Republicans should unite to immediately introduce articles of impeachment.
Failing impeachment, it is the solemn duty of the People to see this man removed from office this fall. It hardly matters who is put in his place in the White House; at this point, I would put more faith in a random name out of the Boston phone book than in the former senator from Illinois. If we do not keep our Republic, no particular policy matters, for we will have lost our liberty as free men to decide the national policy.
Today, we think of her mostly as a symbol of legal immigration. But why are immigrants so desperate to come here? Because we are the world’s freest nation. We represent the Great Experiment in democracy. We choose our own destiny. We are this surly world’s guardians of liberty.
President Obama has made a policy fight into a battle for Lady Liberty herself. Let us work together, across all political boundaries, to ensure that America wins.
Now, having said my piece, I shall go out into the Internet, and find out whether I am alone in these sentiments. I pray that rejection of this usurpation will not become yet another partisan issue. Too much is at stake.