Predictably, Congressional Republicans and their faux constitutionalist echo chamber are screaming that the President’s recent immigration order exceeded his authority.
Congress has given the Executive branch wide discretion over deportation priorities and as both conservative and liberal legal authorities have confirmed, the President is exercising that discretion in a manner consistent with Congressionally-endorsed policies such as family unification. As legal scholar Walter Dellinger pointed out:
There are 11.3 million people in the United States who, for one reason or another, are deportable. The largest number that can be deported in any year under the resources provided by Congress is somewhere around 400,000. Congress has recognized this and in 6 U.S.C. 202 (5) it has directed the secretary of homeland security to establish “national immigration enforcement policies and priorities.” In the action announced tonight, the secretary has done just that, and the president has approved.
In other words, Congress has never supplied funding sufficient to deport more than a small number of the undocumented, and the President–every President–has been given the discretion to decide who among those living here illegally should be targeted. And every President has exercised that discretion. As a comment on Andrew Sullivan’s blog put it,
As there is an existing, bipartisan agreement that some 96.5% of the undocumented population will be allowed to remain here (i.e., the “how many” question), Obama’s executive action asks only: which undocumented immigrants should populate the 400,000 who are deported?
The question is not whether Obama should increase the number of undocumented immigrants (he isn’t), but whether he should apply severely limited resources in a targeted fashion (e.g., new arrivals, criminals, etc.) or indiscriminately (e.g., a law abiding mother of a U.S. citizen-child)? And, is Obama plausibly “tearing up the Constitution” if he deports the only number of people he can (about 400,000), but prioritizes who should be deported within such Congressionally imposed constraints?
The answer to that question is self-evident. The GOP should be embarrassed to be making the hysterical, ahistorical and factually-inaccurate assertions that are currently filling the airwaves–but this isn’t your father’s GOP and in case you haven’t noticed, this particular President is (in the eyes of the Republican base) by definition illegitimate.
Sometimes, when logic and fair play are clearly not going to carry the day, satire is all we have left. (I’m laughing because otherwise, I’ll cry.) Andy Borowitz has been on a roll lately, and with respect to our current kerfuffle over the President’s immigration Executive Action, he has hit a home run/touchdown/nerve. I’m quoting the whole thing, because it’s just too good–and too true– to truncate:
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled his party’s long-awaited plan on immigration on Wednesday, telling reporters, “We must make America somewhere no one wants to live.”
Appearing with House Speaker John Boehner, McConnell said that, in contrast to President Obama’s “Band-Aid fixes,” the Republican plan would address “the root cause of immigration, which is that the United States is, for the most part, habitable.”
“For years, immigrants have looked to America as a place where their standard of living was bound to improve,” McConnell said. “We’re going to change that.”
Boehner said that the Republicans’ plan would reduce or eliminate “immigration magnets,” such as the social safety net, public education, clean air, and drinkable water.
The Speaker added that the plan would also include the repeal of Obamacare, calling healthcare “catnip for immigrants.”
Attempting, perhaps, to tamp down excitement about the plan, McConnell warned that turning America into a dystopian hellhole that repels immigrants “won’t happen overnight.”
“Our crumbling infrastructure and soaring gun violence are a good start, but much work still needs to be done,” he said. “When Americans start leaving the country, we’ll know that we’re on the right track.”
In closing, the two congressional leaders expressed pride in the immigration plan, noting that Republicans had been working to make it possible for the past thirty years.
As McConnell would say, “A-Yup.”