President Obama lets people break laws that he doesn’t like. The latest example is his backdoor amnesty for thousands of illegal immigrants, as a still-fuzzy but insidious picture is emerging.
Obama shows a pattern of refusing to enforce laws (or refusing to permit states like Arizona to enforce them). When he dislikes our laws, Obama forces change by dictate rather than seeking legal change through the political process. Congress gets bypassed.
Those benefiting can claim a new category of legal immunity: FBO’s — Favored By Obama.
Selective enforcement is being taken to new extremes. Furor would follow any straightforward official announcement that Obama is forgiving thousands from deportation, so the new amnesty policy is coming to light gradually, memo by memo and place by place.
One new memo from Obama’s Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) declares ICE’s unwillingness to act on local arrests of illegals unless they are accused of serious offenses like felonies or DUI’s; a second memo announces that thousands of pending deportations will be dismissed because the defendants don’t face serious charges – if, of course, you don’t count immigration violations.
From Houston comes word that immigration lawyers have been “stunned” when they arrive in court only to learn that the government was dismissing their cases, part of a systematic review of thousands of pending deportation cases. From Miami it’s reported that tens of thousands of cases are involved. From Dallas we hear that even some with criminal records will have cases dismissed, that “defendants can have one misdemeanor conviction, but it cannot involve a DWI, family violence or a sex crime.”
Excusing a misdemeanor, in addition to violations of immigration law, makes a mockery of the legal process.
The Washington Post reports that unionized ICE employees are angry and have voted “no confidence” in ICE Director John Morton, adding, “Immigration officers say the new measures limit their enforcement efforts . . . Current and former ICE attorneys in New York, Houston and other offices say they are angry that they have been instructed to drop efforts to deport some immigrants.”
Obama’s team praises and excuses itself by claiming to have deported a record number of people in its first year. But numbers can be gamed. The period they brag about actually is a fiscal year that includes George W. Bush’s final months. The Center for Investigative Reporting says this year’s deportation numbers are down by about 20 percent as Obama’s first full fiscal year nears its end. However, they stress that they are focusing resources on removing illegals who committed additional offenses. The system indeed is backlogged, but why resort to large-scale dismissal of cases rather than allocating more resources?
The respectable approach would be to change laws rather than refuse to enforce them. But Obama’s Justice Department, like ICE, has chosen paths of non-enforcement.
The infamous dismissal of voter intimidation charges against Black Panthers led to testimony that claimed the decree came down from an Obama Justice Department appointee, directing that no voting rights cases would be filed against black defendants accused of violating the rights of whites.
Then there was Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that federal law against marijuana would not be fully enforced in states with so-called (and loophole-ridden) medical marijuana laws. He ignored the Supreme Court ruling (Gonzales v. Raich) that those state laws were overridden by the federal prohibition.
Whether the issue is immigration, voting rights, drug laws, or anything else, there’s an even greater threat involved in the administration’s approach. Our very rule of law is threatened by the Obama edicts of not enforcing laws. The proper course is to change disliked laws through the political process — and to abide by the results of that process.
Backdoor amnesty is wrong. And so is slamming the door on our system of laws.
Former U.S. Congressman Ernest Istook is now a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation. This column first appeared at www.foundry.org.