Twitter and the news media are going crazy today over an incident at the White House Rose Garden, in which TheDailyCaller’s Neil Munro interrupted President Obama’s press conference on his decision to use an executive order to end the deportation of illegal aliens. In the middle of announcing his decision, the president was cut off by Munro’s question
“Why’d you favor foreigners over Americans?”
To which, Obama replied
“Excuse me sir, but it’s not time for questions.”
To some, Munro’s actions apparently make him a villain; to others, his bold interruption makes him a hero. But as I see it, this discussion misses the point, and just plays into the media’s narrative of American “polarization.” The real issue here is that when the president no longer follows the rule of law, the entire fabric of our Republic begins to crumble.
I know from speaking with tens of thousands of patriots across this country, that the issue of illegal immigration is a touchy one. And as I type this, I am sure that millions are finding out about what just happened in the White House Rose Garden, and are forming their opinion on it based on where they stand on the illegal immigration “issue.” For me, however, the issue of illegal immigration is nothing more than a distraction from what really happened here.
Like so much of what Obama has done since his re-election campaign began ramping up, today’s announcement didn’t address the issue at hand so much as pander to potential voters. According to Reuters, Obama will use an executive order to that will mean
illegal immigrants up to 30 years old who came to the United States as children and do not pose a risk to national security would be eligible to stay in the country and allowed to apply for work permits…
To be eligible for the new enforcement rules, a person must have come to the United States under 16 years old and have resided in the country for at least five years. They must be in school or have graduated from high school or be honorably discharged from the U.S. military. They must also be free of convictions of felony or significant misdemeanor offenses.
In total, only 800,000 immigrants qualify for this exemption, which does not create a path to citizenship or amnesty. In other words, it doesn’t secure our borders, better enforce existing immigration laws, bring illegals into the legitimate economy or anything else… it is simply a symbolic bone thrown to Latino voters. But in order to score those political points, Obama had to violate the rule of law… and even his own stated beliefs.
When a president takes office, he vows to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and… preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” By deciding which immigration laws he wants to enforce and which he doesn’t, Obama makes a mockery of the office of President, which is intended to execute the laws that Congress passes (which explains why it’s called the “Executive Branch”). When this country broke free from the British Monarchy, one of the key reasons was to create what John Adams called “a nation of laws, not men.” By trampling on the rule of law with this decision, Obama directly attacked one of the key core principles that this country was founded upon.
But don’t take my word for it… ask Obama. As The Daily Caller reports, Obama himself argued just last year that the President does not have the right to selectively enforce (or not) the nation’s immigration laws. Speaking at a Univision-sponsored town hall meeting, Obama answered calls for him to suspend deportations of illegals by executive order, arguing
“With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed — and I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know that we’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.
There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.” [emphasis added]
As a lawyer, Obama knows that what he has done is a direct violation of the rule of law and the separation of powers. And as if it’s not bad enough that he is in violation of American law and the Constitution, this decision shows that he can’t even live up to the principles he professes to the American people. But this should not be surprising: if a president doesn’t see himself as being accountable to laws, why should he feel accountable to the American people who elected him?
However you might feel about the issue of illegal immigration, Obama’s decision today should shock and surprise you far more than Munro’s outburst. After all, it’s hardly reasonable to allow the president to undermine the most important values of our system of government, and then be aghast at the fact that a reporter interrupted him. By violating the rule of law, Obama broke down the social contract, without which the very concepts of “civility” and “respect for the office of the presidency” become meaningless.
And though any violation of core American principles should be troubling no matter why it happened, it’s worth considering the “why”of this situation. Obama was not stepping into a Constitutional grey area in order to protect Americans from an imminent threat. This was not a decision he was forced into. Today the fundamental beliefs of our founding fathers were tossed aside, simply to win the president a few Hispanic votes.
The depth of cynicism behind this betrayal is, in my mind, nearly as bad as the betrayal itself. When one man’s political ploy is more important than the constitution, the rule of law and the separation of powers, what can you call that man other than a tyrant? If the danger facing this country wasn’t clear to you before, it should be now.