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This lazy August morning while many Americans are on vacation blissfully detached from current events, one of President’s Obama’s most radical transformations of the American landscape takes hold. A lawless, unlegislated illegal alien amnesty becomes reality today as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) begins to officially accept applications (no personal interview required) from almost 2 million illegal aliens seeking “deferred action.”
Americans won’t like the amnesty and they won’t like how it was done, but they’re not to blame. Only Congress has the power to act against a president who throws the constitutional system into chaos by nullifying the laws Congress has enacted and governs by imperial edicts. Congress is out of town now, but frankly, even when they were in town they were out of touch and unwilling to challenge President Obama’s usurpation of their exclusive plenary authority over immigration policy.
Today’s amnesty is the dénouement of the backdoor tactics this president has been peddling since taking office and should have been no surprise to Congress.
They should have stopped it long before it reached this point. After all, for the past 3 and a half years, the administration has bypassed Congress while it systematically dismantled most interior immigration enforcement by gutting programs Congress enacted, rewritten guidelines, and claimed limitless prosecutorial discretion in an effort to allow all but the most violent criminal aliens to remain. “Merely” violating immigration laws is now inconsequential in the eyes of this administration. Yet, with a few exceptions in the House and Senate, Congress has said nothing, done nothing.
In June, the Obama administration further usurped congressional authority by announcing it was unilaterally amending federal immigration policy to grant amnesty to illegal aliens who met criteria similar to that of the failed DREAM Act. This circumvention of congressional power came not in the form of an executive order or regulation, but by a mere policy memorandum authored by the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. Shortly afterwards, President Obama publicly declared the new law of the land. Again, Congress sat idly by, surrendering the authority it is granted to regulate immigration to a White House eager to use it for political purposes.
Inaction has consequences. Starting today, illegal aliens up to the age of 30 who meet certain requirements will begin submitting their applications for "deferred action," which allows them to remain in the country for a period of two years, with indefinite renewals. They may also apply for work authorization, adding an estimated 2 million job-seekers to the workforce at a time of record unemployment.
Congress needs to wake up, show up, stand up and remind itself that they rejected the DREAM Act as recently as December 2010. Why and how is the president now doing administratively that which Congress said no to legislatively? Even President Obama himself admitted it is Congress' job to pass the law and the Executive Branch's job to enforce the law.
As duly elected custodians of the U.S. Constitution, Congress has a sacred responsibility to reassert its authority to write and regulate immigration laws. They must demand that the president abide by the Constitutional Separation of Powers doctrine, and reign in the abuse of executive power President Obama is using to ignore the law.
Short of that, we’ll all begin to wonder if T.S. Elliot had the U.S. Congress in mind when he wrote, “We are the hollow men, shape without form, shade without color, paralyzed force, gesture without motion.”
Bob Dane is Communications Director for Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Kristen Williams is Press Secretary for FAIR.