Responding to the President’s Immigration Fiat, Pt. 4

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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In taking his immigration executive actions – especially if, as expected, they are expansive – the president will have thrown down a monumental, even radical, challenge to the American tradition of governance as well as to the American public and, not incidentally, to the Republican Party.

He and his allies can be expected justify his actions by all the means at his disposal, and they will be considerable. They are, however, by no means insurmountable.

It is important to recognize that once the president issues his orders, they will become legal and political facts, and must be reckoned with on those grounds.

That means:

  • They will exist as government policy. 
  • They will begin to be carried out. Government officials and workers in the Department of Homeland Security will be tasked with putting them into effect and will start the process of doing so.
  • Immigration advocacy groups associated with the administration will begin to amplify the president’s directives to the audiences affected by them, and this will have several intended consequences. First, large number of affected illegal aliens and any others covered by the president’s directives will immediately have a vested interest in their continued and successful application to them. They will understand this as a government commitment, and the president’s allies will doubtless buttress that view.

The implementation machinery charged with putting the president’s directives into effect is part of the Executive Office of the President. That is, they are under the president’s directive and will remain so until the day the president leaves office – January 20, 2017 – a period of 15 months.

Once the president leaves office, his successor, even if he or she is a Republican, will have to contend with executive actions that have developed a political life of their own in the almost year and a half they will have been in operation. On top of that, any Republican presidential candidate will have to declare him or herself on this issue right before and during a presidential campaign – a time during which public attention is much higher than during mid-term elections.

Democrats, and their possible presidential nominees, even if they lament the methods that President Obama used to bring about this “needed” and “compassionate” result, will argue that we have come too far to “turn back the clock”, and will excoriate any Republican who dares to suggest it.

And just to round out a realistic picture of what a fight over the president’s executive action is likely to entail down the road, it is very likely that another round of “Hispanic panic” will seize some Republicans. They will argue that in order to “reach out” to these important possible future voters, President Obama’s executive immigration amnesty, though regrettable, must be accepted, making it a fait accompli.

That would be a very damaging to real immigration reform, Republicans, and most importantly ordinary Americans.

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