By Joe Guzzardi
November 29, 2014
Last week went poorly for President Obama as he prepared to launch a nationwide effort to sell his highly unpopular executive order to a skeptical public. Americans, many congressional Republicans and some Democrats reject Obama’s legislative overreach that will legalize five million unlawful immigrants.
The Saturday Night Live cast, once ardent Obama supporters, harpooned the president. And Obama’s attempted joke about granting the spared Thanksgiving turkey “amnesty” fell flat. More troubling for Obama than being the butt of an SNL skit is that he admitted, perhaps inadvertently, what his critics have been charging him with since his announcement—that his unilateral decree broke U.S. immigration laws. Speaking in Chicago, hecklers confronted Obama to demand that he stop deportations, even though few are being carried out. Obama replied that he “just took action to change the law.” During the days leading up to and immediately following his White House amnesty announcement, Obama repeatedly insisted that he was acting within the law.
As details seep out about the cost and extent of Obama’s executive order, resistance will build. The Heritage Foundation reported that over the legalized immigrants’ lifetimes, the amnestied aliens will receive over $2 trillion in taxpayer funded federal benefits. According to the study, the typical illegal immigrant has about a 10th grade education. Since his limited education will place him in low paying jobs, he’ll draw $3 in benefits for every $1 he puts into the system. U.S. debt will soon exceed $18 trillion, yet Obama has proposed to put five million more people into the world’s largest and most expensive entitlement system that includes the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. Adding $2 trillion to fund illegal immigration while many of the U.S. safety nets like Social Security are running out of money is indefensible.
What happens next is up to the newly empowered GOP. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte will be holding two immigration hearings next week when Congress reconvenes. Goodlatte, a private practice immigration lawyer before he entered public life, is adamant that Obama’s independent decision ignores the Constitution and alters existing law without adding new statutes.
In his Wall Street Journal op-ed, Goodlatte cited Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution that requires the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” and which compels him to enforce all constitutionally valid acts of Congress, regardless of his administration’s view of their validity. That’s the president’s duty, and not an option. Goodlatte noted that the Constitution doesn’t say that in absence of congressional action, the president can proceed on his own authority. Goodlatte on Obama: “He will do what he wants, when he wants, without regard for the Constitution or what the American people desire.”
In conjunction with his House and Senate colleagues, Goodlatte promised to use all the tools at his disposal to obstruct Obama, specifically Congress’ power of the purse. To that end, there’s good news. The Congressional Research Service announced that Congress can block Obama’s plan to issue work permits to five million aliens by prohibiting funds for those specific programs. Previously, House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) had argued that since U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives fees from immigration-benefits applicants, Congress cannot constrain its spending. CRS rejected Rogers’ interpretation.
Unless Congress stops Obama, millions more illegal immigrants will follow in the footsteps of those already here. For decades, lax enforcement has sent the message that illegal immigrants have only to get to the U.S. Once here, they won’t be deported. Instead, they’ll eventually be granted legalization. Obama’s executive order confirms their perspective.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]