“Congress must work to end the lawlessness and restore constitutional order.” Thus spoke Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama (Republican). He was referring to the need to deal with the White House’s unilateral refusal to enforce immigration law and the possibility that they will even go further.
According to Breitbart:
On Thursday, 22 Republican senators, including even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), denounced President Barack Obama in a scathing letter for threatening America’s “entire constitutional system” with his immigration “enforcement review” that threatens to “nullify” the nation’s immigration laws.
“Your actions demonstrate an astonishing disregard for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the rights of American citizens and legal residents,” the senators wrote in a letter to Obama. “Our entire constitutional system is threatened when the Executive Branch suspends the law at its whim and our nation’s sovereignty is imperiled when the commander-in-chief refuses to defend the integrity of its borders.”
After intense pressure from pro-amnesty groups who fear that amnesty legislation will not pass this year, Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson met with advocacy groups last month to reportedly consider administrative actions—such as granting more forms of amnesty, not deporting illegal immigrants who have not committed “major” crimes, and allowing bond hearings for illegal immigrants—to further erode the nation’s laws. The senators said they had “grave concerns” with these potential actions because they “would represent a near complete abandonment of basic immigration enforcement and discard the rule of law and the notion that the United States has enforceable borders.”
“These policies have operated as an effective repeal of duly enacted federal immigration laws and exceed the bounds of the Executive Branch’s prosecutorial discretion,” the senators wrote. “It is not the province of the Executive to nullify the laws that the people of the United States, through their elected representatives, have chosen to enact. Congress has not passed laws permitting people to illegally enter the country or to ignore their visa expiration dates, so long as they do not have a felony conviction or other severe offense on their record.”
The Senators have correctly identified the problem. The Executive Branch is boldly presuming to reshape and virtually repeal law through enforcement decisions. It makes a mockery of the separation of powers.
By the way, there is no argument that will excuse the Administration in what they are doing. I don’t think the executive branch should agree to enforce an unconstitutional law. But the White House has never expressed any such reservation about immigration laws. In fact, they have enforced those laws from time to time before. No, this is not about any alleged principle. The Administration is simply getting impatient because Congress won’t do what they want so they are trying to put more pressure on Congress.
But as much as I appreciate Sessions affirmation of his duty “to end the lawlessness and restore constitutional order,” I have to ask, What is he willing to do? The only power that Congress has over the Executive Branch is to impeach the President, or the Attorney General, or (my favorite!) both.
Otherwise, they are just talking. They can no more change Obama’s behavior than Obama can change Putin’s behavior in Ukraine.