[T]he GOP reaction [against the Obama amnesty order] has been vitriolic. The complaint, however, is strong on sensationalism—and thin on law or fact. . . . [M]uch of the recent Republican rhetoric relies on five key myths spelled out below. The Boston Globe, Laila Hlass, 12/15/14.
Fact Check: Hlass lists “myths” which are largely or completely factual.
Myth 1: There is no legal basis for the president’s action. — This is true. Hlass repeats the Obama claim that his amnesty edict is based on the legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, which allows authorities to set priorities for enforcement when they have limited resources.
In reality the Obama Administration has never wanted or requested adequate resources to enforce immigration laws. Indeed, it has sued states for trying to assist it in that task. Obama during his time in office has systematically sabotaged immigration law enforcement, as revealed by the union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
Obama’s edict is not prosecutorial discretion because it goes far beyond merely setting priorities. It arbitrarily makes law by exempting entire classes of illegal alien lawbreakers from enforcement—and by offering them work permits it entitles them to break the law against employment of unauthorized workers.
Myth 2: The president is not enforcing immigration law. — This is true. Hlass maintains that “The Obama Administration deported a record number of people . . . in 2013. Immigration activists call the president “the deporter-in-chief” for removing more than 2 million people during his time in office.”
This statement is the lie that never seems to die. The truth is that the administration padded the number of people deported (that is removed from the interior) with people caught and returned at the border. No administration used that means of accounting in the past. After repeated exposure of this fraud, the Obama Department of Homeland Security finally admitted it wasn’t true. Prior to that, Obama himself conceded it was “a little deceptive.”
Myth 3: The president actions are unprecedented. — This is true. Hlass states, “Every president since Eisenhower has taken executive action to grant relief to unauthorized immigrants. Of particular importance, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush . . . [deferred] deportations for about 40 percent of the unauthorized immigrant population at the time—about 1.5 million people.”
Some past presidents did allow people to stay when political upheavals and natural disasters occurred in their home countries. But this was justified under the established legal principle that presidents have the authority to act to further U.S. foreign policy. None based their acts on the basis of prosecutorial discretion as Obama has done. In 1990 Congress established guidelines for presidential action of this kind. Obama make no reference to these guidelines in issuing his edict.
As for what Reagan and Bush did, both presidents believed that the 1986 amnesty law passed by Congress was unclear as to the status of children and spouses of illegal aliens who were amnestied. Working with respect for the intent of Congress, these presidents granted legal status to a small number of these children and spouses. The figure of 1.5 million is bogus, as shown by research presented in The Washington Post. Bush specifically worked with Congress for a new law to clarify their status. In 1990 Congress did so, and 140,000 children and spouses subsequently applied.
Both Reagan and Bush acknowledged the authority of Congress in making their decisions. Obama, in contrast, showed contempt for Congress and the constitutional separation of powers, by proclaiming benefits for illegal aliens that Congress specifically declined to grant.
Myth 4: Recent immigrants are coming to the United States under the belief they will obtain lawful permanent status. — There is certainly truth in this view, although it is hard to know exactly to what extent because human motivations in such instances are complex and not always easy to discern. Hlass cites a UN study claiming that violence in their home countries rather than the prospect of legalization prompted them to come. But interviews of those migrants by U.S. authorities indicate that hope for legal status was one of their leading motivations.
Myth 5: There is a crisis at the border. — This has elements of truth and falsehood. As Hlass accurately states, fewer illegal aliens are attempting to enter the U.S. since Obama became president. But it hard to make the case that Obama had much to do with it, given his record of enforcement. A much more significant reason is the deep recession the country has suffered since 2008. Our depressed job market has made the U.S. less attractive to illegal aliens than it used to be. Nevertheless, in recent years the flow of illegal aliens has started to pick up again. See here and here. An improving economy, plus the encouragement to law-breaking offered by Obama, probably will ensure that it will keep on rising.
Everything considered, it is this Boston Globe writer—not Republican critics of Obama—who is thin on law and facts.