The ultimate descent of character for any elected leader is when he or she places the retention of political power above core governing principles and the best interests of the governed. I did not expect Barack Obama to sink to that state, but with the announcement yesterday of his cynical and unethical refusal to enforce the immigration laws, he has.
His administration declared yesterday that it will grant an indefinite reprieve to thousands of illegal immigrants facing deportation, and permit them to stay and work legally. This, of course, does more than effect those apprehended illegals: it signals millions more that they are in no danger of having to be accountable for ignoring U.S. immigration procedures, and signals future illegals that the borders of the United States are essentially open.
President Obama had repeatedly insisted that it was Congress’s job to deal with the immigration problem, while his contribution was restricted to harassing and stigmatizing states, like Arizona, that attempted to take proactive efforts to enforce U.S. law. Once his approval rating ducked under 40%, apparently, the President’s attitudes shifted to Machiavellian, and in the guise of streamlining U.S. security, Obama has established a national policy of non-enforcement. Now “low-priority” offenders have been designated as worthy of a free path to the benefits of U.S. residence, with only convicted felons and other “public safety threats” facing any consequences for breaking the law.
Imagine this system being applied to other U.S. laws. A job and a clean record would mean that you can drive 20 miles over the speed limit without fear of being pulled over, while enforcement will be restricted to drunks and drivers speeding to escape the scene of their robberies. Evading taxes will only be punished if you don’t have kids, or have a splashy job, like, say, Secretary of the Treasury. The principle behind Obana’s illegal immigration enforcement policy is offensive on its face. But it is far worse than that.
1. It is dishonest. The Administration did not have the integrity, candor or respect for the American people to announce the new policy for what it was and in terms of its actual intent. Instead, the new policy was framed as way to relieve the backlog in the Homeland Security process of deporting individuals who are terrorism and crime threats. The craven and cynical dishonesty of this was immediately demonstrated by the reactions of the group it was aimed at pleasing, the open borders, pro-illegal immigration advocates. Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, was typical, saying, “This is a huge victory, not just for the immigrant and refugee community, but for all of us as American people, living up to our ideals. It makes no sense to deport innocent children, to deport immigrant families. This is huge for the president. We commend him.’’
That’s right, it makes sense to encourage anyone to enter the country illegally as long as they have children quickly upon getting here. What a huge victory for the American people.
2. It is unfair, as the pro-illegal immigration argument has always been unfair. “Seeking the American dream” is not justification for allowing illegal immigrants to delay or prevent the ability of aspiring legal immigrants to enter the country, or for preventing the United States from deciding whom it wants to let inside its borders.
3. It is irresponsible, making the status of illegals even more confusing than it already is, and entrenching long-term problems in education, employment, labor,health and social programs
4. It is incompetent and a breach of duty. The President takes an oath to uphold the laws of the United States. The oath does not permit him to refuse to enforce those laws he doesn’t like, or to render meaningless laws when doing so will satisfy a crucial voting bloc.
Predictably, the media is portraying the immediate controversy over Obama’s actions in partisan terms. I do not understand why indignation over such an obviously unethical act of governance abuse should be determined by party lines. All Americans should instinctively reject a system of law enforcement in which “good” people are allowed to break laws and “bad” people are punished. In the eyes of a fair justice system, violators of the same law must be equally culpable. I do not comprehend why citizens of any belief system, including legal immigrants, would support policies that encourage and provide incentives for illegal immigrants.
It is obviously impractical and unrealistic to insist that all illegal immigrants be deported, but the concept that illegal activity can be retroactively validated by having a family, working, or not breaking other laws is ethically incoherent and destructive. The law already has a model for the problem of long-time illegal immigrants: statutes of limitation. After a certain number of years, the opportunity for law enforcement to punish most crimes expires, allowing wrongdoers to turn the page and get on with their lives, and allowing law enforcement to concentrate on more recent violations. Make the limit 15 years, or 10; have the INS concentrate on recent boarder-jumpers. Statutes of limitation don’t create incentives to commit crimes, unlike ill-conceived, sentimental legislation like the various “Dream Acts;” they don’t confer virtue on the scofflaws who successfully avoid appropriate punishment, like Obama’s new “nice illegals won’t get deported and then their relatives will vote Democratic” policy. They just clear the backlog.
It should be clear, however, the Obama Administration’s motive wasn’t to start solving the illegal immigration crisis, but to exploit it for electoral gain. The idealistic President who came into office promising so much has officially and unmistakably sunk to buying votes with the integrity of America, personifying the politician who proves himself unworthy of power by the manner in which he seeks to retain it.