Janet Napolitano, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and current president of the University of California system, recently addressed the University of Georgia School of Law. Those who appreciate irony certainly can savor that spectacle: an arch advocate of lawlessness presuming to lecture at a law school. There she proclaimed the right of President Obama to ignore Congress and proclaim amnesty for illegal aliens with a wave of his executive wand.
This is justified, Napolitano told The Washington Post, “If Congress refuses to act and perform its duties.” So Congress has a “duty” to pass amnesty, regardless of what the members of that body may choose to do? The Great Janet and her fellow amnesty supporters indeed have said so. And with their high wisdom to guide us, one wonders why we even need elected representatives to make our laws.
In any case, Napolitano insists that presidential wand-waving is perfectly acceptable to bypass the constitutional separation of powers that designates Congress as the lawmaking branch of government. Interestingly, a very high-ranking figure in Washington once argued quite eloquently against Napolitano’s claim. His name was Barack Obama.
He stated: “I, as the President, am obligated to enforce the law. I don’t have a choice about that. . . . With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed… [F]or me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.”
On another occasion, he observed: “I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own… Not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.”
Subsequently, of course, Obama changed his tune. This certainly raises the issue of the president’s integrity. Of course it is possible that he had a sincere change of viewpoint. Still, it’s hard not to notice that he changed around the time when Congress decided not to pass the Dream Act amnesty. Then he proclaimed amnesty for illegal aliens in the “Dream” category, and he has claimed the right to issue immigration edicts ever since. Sheer political expediency, and fundamental dishonesty, seem to be the explanation.
Deception on immigration has been a hallmark of the Obama Administration, and Janet Napolitano played a key role to promote it during her stay at DHS. A prominent example was the claim that DHS was conducting “record deportations” of illegal aliens, even as it followed the administration’s informal policy of systematically undermining immigration law enforcement. The “record” was attained by padding deportation statistics – which the DHS itself was finally forced to admit after she left.
Lawlessness and duplicity commonly go together. The former Secretary of Homeland Security is a perfect illustration.