Will the President take executive action on immigration or other policies in his remaining two years in office? But more importantly, should he and what will be the effect if he does?
A growing number of observers have been prognosticating the deteriorating condition of our legislative branch in Washington. Gridlock is at an all-time high, with little legislation able to make it through the House and Senate cleanly, much less past the President’s desk. The radical left drives the Democrats and the Republicans seem hopelessly fragmented. It is no wonder that finger-pointing, blame, spin and rhetoric have taken over on both sides of the aisle. The issues are becoming lost in a power play for the control of the future of our country. Party interests are first, the citizens a distant second. The impending immigration crisis, and what may well be described as an impending Constitutional crisis, is illustration one for a broken and dysfunctional system. And the victims of Washington power politics are always those who suppose they are being represented.
Cue the 2012 tape of President Obama explaining that he does not have the legal authority to single-handedly address immigration. At that time he publicly recognized that there are laws and processes for such legislation and that Congress is the authority that must act. Never mind that the can has been kicked down the road on immigration since the Carter era. Never mind that the myriad of laws on the books currently are only sparsely enforced. It is truly a matter of proper legal and Constitutional procedure. Never mind that for the first two years of his administration, with a Democrat controlled House and Senate, the President did nothing to address the issue.
Fast forward to the fourth of November and the Democrats getting waxed in the interim election. The results were clearly an indictment of Obama’s policies and failing legacy. What is a flagging Chief Executive to do? About face on immigration, fire up the rhetoric and start pointing fingers at the Republicans and a stalled Congress. Ignore the legal framework and promise immediate Executive Action to address the issue that has supposedly so long been ignored by others. In other words, try to divert attention from the fact the voting public is nervous about the direction this administration is taking the country. However, to state that action must be taken now or else is not only inaccurate, it is simply reprehensible.
The problem is that if the president acts by Executive Order we are now threatened with two new corollaries to the immigration crisis. First, we become embroiled in a constitutional crisis. The President is on record stating his office does not have unilateral power to act on immigration. This creates a crisis of legal precedent and further erodes public confidence in government. It threatens to fragment Congress and divert attention from the real issues to the President’s usurpation of executive powers.
Second, the focus shifts from a broad and necessary legislative discussion of the many needs of both immigrants and legal citizens, with recognition of a mandate for reform, to the policy and viewpoint of one person. And that is never a broad panacea that will result in a balanced and fair resolution. Further, the President is certainly hoping to spring a “can’t win” scenario for the Republicans with 2016 in view to make it too politically costly for a focused response to his actions. Either way, it is the welfare of the people who pay the price for such a blatant power play.
What is perhaps an even larger concern is that the President does not seem concerned with the potentially violent fragmentations such an action might engender. Both politically and socially, reactions would certainly be strong and potentially more divisive towards certain minority communities. Utah is actually a fairly culturally diverse place. Hispanic, Polynesian and Asian heritages are on the rise. Many of these good people are our friends and neighbors. Many have already paid the price for full and functional citizenship. Do they not deserve the most thoughtful, fair and fully partisan solution to their desire for workable citizenship? Do not legal citizens also deserve a voice? These good people certainly do not deserve to be pawns in a lurid Washington power play.
The observers of Washington dysfunction are unfortunately justified in their opinions. A general amnesty from the President would just ignite a political furor that would result in the real issues being lost in a war of vitriol, rhetoric and partisan posturing. In the end, it really is not about the aspiring immigrant or the rights of legal citizens, it is all about who conspires to maintain control.