Obama’s royal flip-flop on using executive action on illegal immigration
“Well, actually, my position hasn’t changed.”
–President Obama, news conference at conclusion of G20 summit, Brisbane, Australia, Nov. 16, 2014
Politicians generally hate to say they have changed their minds about something. With President Obama poised to take executive action to address immigration, perhaps as early as this week, he was challenged by a reporter to explain why he believed he could take this action now, after years of saying his hands were tied. The president responded with a Pinocchio-laden straw man, saying that the questions had a distinct focus: “their interest was in me, through executive action, duplicating the legislation that was stalled in Congress.”
But as we shall see, the questions actually specifically addressed the sorts of actions that he is contemplating now.
There is precedence for such a shift. In 2011, the president said he could not take action to help “dreamers’—immigrants aged 30 and younger whose parents had brought them to this country when they were children– from being deported. But then in 2012, he halted deportations and allowed them to apply for temporary work permits.
Univision Town Hall, March 28, 2011: ‘The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws.’
Question: Mr. President, my question will be as follows: With an executive order, could you be able to stop deportations of the students? And if that’s so, that links to another of the questions that we have received through univision.com. We have received hundreds, thousand, all related to immigration and the students. Kay Tomar through Univision.com told us — I’m reading — “What if at least you grant temporary protective status, TPS, to undocumented students? If the answer is yes, when? And if no, why not?”
Obama: Well, first of all, temporary protective status historically has been used for special circumstances where you have immigrants to this country who are fleeing persecution in their countries, or there is some emergency situation in their native land that required them to come to the United States. So it would not be appropriate to use that just for a particular group that came here primarily, for example, because they were looking for economic opportunity.
With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed — and I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know that we’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.
There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.
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