Last Monday, President Obama gave a speech on immigration reform from the Rose Garden to address the rapid increase of illegal immigrant children crossing the border into the United States. This increase is a direct result of the recent promises of amnesty coming from the White House. The president’s speech, however, failed to put forward any new or constructive ideas for moving forward.
Relying on one of his tried and true tactics, the president blamed Republicans in Congress for their obstruction of the immigration reform bill drafted last year, claiming that he had “held off on pressuring [Congress] for a long time to give Speaker Boehner the space he needed to get his fellow Republicans on board.” It’s no surprise that the president claims it isn’t his fault. Has anything been? By this point, however, it should be obvious that the biggest concern that Republicans in Congress have is the perceived lack of sincerity in the enforcement of border security. It’s not just “politics, plain and simple,” as the president asserts.
As a policymaker, the sensible solution would be to work with John Boehner and other Republicans and agree upon a specific policy for securing the border. Ideally, that policy would hold the president accountable if it’s not enacted, and Obama could (among other things) take the “it will get done and if it doesn’t, its on me” approach. But there’s too much on the line for the president to do that: the perceived “tolerance” behind the amnesty policy and the entire Obama administration framework, the possibility that inaction could come back to him, and worst of all, the potential black mark of *gasp* cooperating with the Republicans. Instead, it was much easier to set up Congress to fail.
By leaving border security open-ended, and charging the RINO Speaker of the House with persuading his colleagues of the merits of the immigration bill, President Obama ensured its failure and set himself up to “fix as much of the immigration system as [he] can on [his] own”. In recent light of last week’s Supreme Court ruling on the president’s recess appointments, you’d think he would be a little cautious about flexing his executive muscles for the time being. However, Monday proved quite the opposite. Obama declared his administrative actions before they are to take place, while also vouching for their lawfulness, and then claimed that these efforts on his part cannot fix the entire problem. That just sounds like an easy way to cover your back in case things go south. This is not only poor policy but also executive overreach.
It has become difficult to buy into the rhetoric that executive action is not enjoyed by President Obama, but rather only used as a last resort when all other options had been exhausted. The extensive changes made to Obamacare alone attest to the fact that our president has little to no regard for the laws of our country and the way that legislation is supposed to work. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, then, that executive action is the means by which he plans on achieving his immigration reforms. If you thought Congress had immigration backwards, imagine what it will be like when there’s no check on the policies because they come directly from the Oval Office.
The greater point here is that, if President Obama is taking matters into his own hands regarding illegal immigration, our country will face the same types of issues that have proven to work poorly in the administration’s foreign policy. True, this is a domestic issue in several ways, but when was the last time that throwing Joe Biden and John Kerry at a problem actually solved anything? It certainly hasn’t improved our standing in the Middle East at all, and its hard to believe that leaders of Central American countries are either willing to or capable of acting in a way that will reduce the rise of illegal immigration in the U.S.
The biggest problem is that President Obama doesn’t seem at all concerned by the Supreme Court’s recent round of rulings against his policies. He seems to be smiling and laughing as he says, “This also makes no sense. I don’t like taking executive action, I’d rather see permanent fixes to the issue we face.” Any president who doesn’t take the nature of executive overreach seriously is one who doesn’t understand the importance of the founding principles of our country. If the Supreme Court can’t deter the president from always taking matters into his own hands, and Congress can’t pass its own legislation without the executive’s approval, then we’ve allowed for the separation of powers to be destroyed.
President Obama’s speech on immigration reform is indicative of a larger problem with his approach to policy in general. While claiming the proposed Senate bill to be “common sense” and bipartisan, the fact remains that there aren’t enough votes from Republicans in the House to pass the bill. This isn’t due purely to obstruction, but rather to a disagreement over fundamental issues of border security. Regardless, the president has decided once again to not only blame House Republicans for the issue, but to take matters into his own hands. This path has been shown historically to end in an overreach of executive powers. If the president really wants to create lasting change, he should consider working with Republicans and stop playing the blame game.