A Little DREAM: I opposed the DREAM Act, for reasons given here. Many of those reasons also apply to the de facto temporary amnesty for DREAM-eligible illegal immigrants that President Obama announced on Friday:
Many DREAM opponents also want take care of these “kids” (or former kids) by making them legal. Mark Krikorian, the anti-amnesty advocate whom I cite most, wants to take care of them. Even Roy Beck of Numbers USA seems to want to take care of them. But there is a way to do it that minimizes the unwanted long-term side effects of encouraging future illegal immigration from parents now living in other countries (who’d understandably like their kids to be made Americans, too), which would set the stage for another amnesty, which in turn would build up a constituency for the next amnesty in a cycle that doesn’t seem to have any end point.
And there is a way to do it that maximizes those long-term effects, by maximizing the number of immigrants who would be covered by DREAM, by offering no effective way to combat fraudulent applications, by creating rules so complex they’ll collapse of the own weight, by passing the bill in a wave of ethnic passion and recklessly including no additional enforcement measures.
The added factor in Obama’s action, of course, is its murky legal status. I await an extended analysis–maybe on Volokh Conspiracy?–of whether a president, in the course of “executing the laws,” can take a group of people that the laws say should be penalized and instead reward them with work permits, effectively putting into place a rejected legislative scheme under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion.” John Yoo’s analysis is a start but doesn’t seal the deal. True, Obama himself seems to have instinctively believed that what he did last week was unconstitutional, but then he doesn’t seem to have an inventive mind in these matters–maybe his lawyers came up with something! Presumably, there are at least some precedents.
I also suspect this is one of those areas where the Constitution’s hallowed bifurcation of authority into “executive” and “legislative” doesn’t work very well, leaving a vast murky area for judicial discretion in deciding which is which–and for judicial impotence in enforcing that decision. I don’t quite see how, short of impeachment or quadrennial defeat, you can make a president to enforce laws he doesn’t want to enforce. It’s a little like making him … well, how would you tell he wasn’t just going through the motions?
More later, and on twitter (in the column on the right). ….
Update:–Ed Gillespie Ate My Brain! The best things you can say about Romney’s most recent weak response are a) he left his options open and b) if Obama was trying to bait him into a restrictionist outburst that might cost him Latino votes, he didn’t take the bait. But he also failed to make either the “magnet for more illegals” point or the “executive overreach” point, even in passing. Does he know he has to go through a Republican convention before he actually gets the nomination? …
It’s now an open question which candidate is more likely to implement a misguided “comprehensive” amnesty. I’d say Romney’s latest comments put him in the lead–he’s promising to take it up as one of his first initiatives. And he’s taking his cues from “gotta-please-Latinos” advisers. … With Obama, we know it’s probably not going to get done (assuming there’s a Republican House), and if it gets done it’s not going to get done quickly or easily. …