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Opinion

Opinion

Obama mixes immigration policy, law

July 7, 2012

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— Though overshadowed by the shocking Supreme Court decision on health care, the court’s Arizona immigration decision, issued three days earlier, remains far more significant than appreciated. It was generally viewed as mixed or ambiguous because the Justice Department succeeded in striking down three of the law’s provisions. However, regarding the law’s central and most controversial element — requiring officers to inquire into the immigration status of anyone picked up for some other violation — the ruling was definitive, indeed unanimous.

No liberal-conservative divide here. Not a single justice found merit in the administration’s claim that this “show me your papers” provision constituted an impermissible pre-emption of federal authority.

On what grounds unconstitutional? Presumably because state officials would be asking about the immigration status of all, rather than adhering to the federal enforcement priorities regarding which illegal aliens would not be subject to deportation.

For example, under the Obama administration’s newly promulgated regulations, there’ll be no more deportation of young people brought here illegally as children (and meeting certain chronological criteria). Presumably, therefore, the Arizona law is invalid because an officer might be looking into the status of a young person the feds now classify as here legally.

Beyond being logically ridiculous — if a state law is unconstitutional because it’s out of sync with the federal government’s current priorities, does it become constitutional again when federal policy changes? — this argument is “an astounding assertion of federal executive power,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito in a concurrence. The Obama Justice Department is suggesting that “a state law may be pre-empted, not because it conflicts with a federal statute or regulation, but because it is inconsistent with a federal agency’s current enforcement priorities. Those priorities, however, are not law. They are nothing more than agency policy.”

And there’s the rub: the Obama administration’s inability to distinguish policy from law. This becomes particularly perverse regarding immigration when, as Justice Antonin Scalia points out, what the administration delicately calls its priorities is quite simply a determination not to enforce the law as passed.

This is what makes so egregious the Obama claim that Arizona is impermissibly undermining federal law. “To say, as the court does,” writes Scalia regarding those parts of the law struck down by the majority, “that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind.”

Consider this breathtaking cascade: An administration violates its constitutional duty to execute the law by deliberately refusing to enforce it. It then characterizes its non-enforcement as simply establishing priorities. It then tries to strike down a state law on immigration on the grounds that it contradicts federal law — by actually trying to enforce it!

The logic is circular, oxymoronic and the very definition of executive overreach. During the Bush-43 years, we were repeatedly treated to garment-rending about the imperial presidency, to major hyperventilation about the “unitary executive.” Yet the current administration’s imperiousness has earned little comparable attention.

Perhaps because President Obama has been so ineffective. It’s hard to call someone imperial who’s failed so consistently. Or maybe not. You can surely be imperial and unsuccessful. Waterloo comes to mind.

Regardless of results, however, Obama’s presumption is Olympian. He takes America into a war in Libya with U.N. approval, but none from Congress. Yet that awful Bush had the constitutional decency to twice seek and gain congressional approval before he initiated hostilities.

The Department of Health and Human Services issues Obamacare regulations treading so heavily on the free-exercise rights of Catholic institutions that Obama’s own allies rebel. The new regulation concocted to tame the firestorm blithely orders private insurers to provide free contraceptives to employees of the objecting religious institutions. By what possible authority does a president order private companies to provide free services? To say nothing of the 1,200 Obamacare waivers granted with royal arbitrariness according to the (political) whims of an HHS secretary.

And now immigration. Obama adopts a policy of major non-enforcement of the immigration law — a variant of the very DREAM Act he could not get through even a Democratic Congress — and promulgates it unilaterally, while his Justice Department claims the right to invalidate state laws that might in some way impinge on that very non-enforcement.

The Republican presidential campaign centers on the ineffectiveness of this administration: failure at home, passivity abroad. A fine electoral strategy. But as citizens we should be grateful. Given the administration’s extravagant ambitions, incompetence is its saving grace.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Getaroom 2 years, 1 month ago

So says the Krauthammer. Do you have your papers in order mein herr? What a load of hog wash this wrinkled up Fuax Nuz mouth piece is and another to-be-expected article from the K. He must have signed Norquist's Pledge way back when. Bottom feeder!

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Getaroom 2 years, 1 month ago

In what way does his disability shape his politics? It's OK to constantly attack the President if you are a former practicing physician and happen to be person with a disability? Krauthammer has never spun anything but vitriol about the President. You spare no barbs when referring the President and it is just your opinion and I have mine. You don't have to like it - in fact - its' expected. That's why I am here. When you go away - so will I.

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jafs 2 years, 1 month ago

Another attempt to spin a ruling that isn't supporting the conservative view into one that does just that.

The state can "inquire into" the immigration status, but can't do anything about it - they have to turn the information over to the feds, who have the enforcement capacity.

So, the provision to stop and ask lacks teeth.

And, it only applies to folks already picked up for a violation of some sort - they can't just stop and ask somebody who looks illegal, as conservatives would like to do.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 1 month ago

How many of the Campaigner in Chief's relatives are illegal aliens in America?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

Chuckie fails to mention that the Supreme Court also said they'd be watching carefully how this "asking for papers" is implemented, with a very strong indication that if there is any overreach (and let's face it, overreach is official Republican policy these days) they'll impose appropriate restrictions.

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beatrice 2 years, 1 month ago

You use terms like you use facts ... loosely.

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beatrice 2 years, 1 month ago

He is not the Halo-ed One. His title is President, awarded through free election. He is not ignoring federal imigration laws -- he has deported nearly twice as many people here illegally than Bush had during the same time in office: http://m.startribune.com/opinion/?id=138684364 He is not a tyrant. He is not far left and he does not have a Socialist agenda.

Tearing down your "facts" is really quite easy. Too easily as well.

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Orwell 2 years, 1 month ago

Nice try, Charlie, but it's still not possible to polish feces. The Supremes struck down the meat of Arizona's bigoted, big-government statute, and the small remaining segment is on life support. This column is just more partisan/extremist propaganda from another flack who's bought and paid for by the greedhead elites.

In point of fact it was a humane and responsible call to prioritize the use of available immigration resources. Deportations have increased dramatically since 1/20/09; the president has now directed that scarce taxpayer resources be prioritized responsibly. Enforcement focus will be on those who chose to enter illegally instead of those who are themselves victims of circumstance beyond their control.

I'm still waiting to hear from Krauthammer how much tax revenue he's willing to spend on finding and exporting every single illegal, and what America would have to give up in order to make that additional government activity possible without increasing taxes or the deficit.

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beatrice 2 years, 1 month ago

Well, then good thing President Obama is going after the criminal element among illegal aliens.

You do know Obama has deported far, far more people when compared to President George W. Bush in his first term, don't you? Obama has deported almost as many people here illegally in one term as Bush did during two terms, do you not? I mean, someone with such strong feelings against illegals and drugs and such would certainly know this fact, wouldn't he?

But hey, why let a litte truth get in the path of your misguided hatred, right? http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-09-21/politics/30183509_1_immigrants-with-criminal-records-unauthorized-immigrant-illegal-immigrants

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beatrice 2 years, 1 month ago

No, the President did not give blanket amnesty to all illegals. Far from it. Instead, he has placed emphasis on deporting those who are here committing crimes rather than on younger people who are contributing to make this a better society. Many of them know only America as their home, as they were brought here as small children by their parents. Those who are selling drugs, doing robberies, etc. ... are still being prosecuted and deported. That is a far, far thing from blanket amnesty.

I know you want life to fit your biases, but facts really are facts. You should know one or two of them before spouting off.

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Orwell 2 years, 1 month ago

And maybe it would be a colossal new net cost aggravating the deficit. My point is that those who advocate "round 'em up and kick 'em out" choose to ignore the potential cost in favor of the partisan political benefit. Too many of them are just looking for a way to get voters upset. It's at best irresponsible.; in the case of an intelligent writer like Krauthammer, it's outright unethical

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

Yea, who does he think he is, president or something?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

And perfectly applicable if you're writing a work of fiction.

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DaveFrancis 2 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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DaveFrancis 2 years, 1 month ago

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DaveFrancis 2 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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DaveFrancis 2 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

What fear-mongering organization are you a hired troll for? Have you ever even been to either Lawrence or Kansas?

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deec 2 years, 1 month ago

There's a website with this name. If it's the same guy he's very proud of his German heritage, and his grandma immigrated as a child. How ironic.

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deec 2 years, 1 month ago

He's all over the net posting on immigration stories, and may be from New Jersey.

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beatrice 2 years, 1 month ago

jorioyalg "xoslrryf" pllingaan and "foaie" solli2we "mixoiuyga" sovberr "Sir-Mix-a-Lot."

So there.

Really False, you should make some attempt to communicate in a common language, a language shared by others and not just one that exists in your own head only.

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