Mr. President, you can’t do whatever you want

Mr. President, you can’t do whatever you want

On Sunday, Ross Douthat of the New York Times wrote an uncharacteristically blistering attack on the plan being floated by the Barack Obama administration to quasi-legalize the status of almost half the immigrants who are now in the country illegally. The details remain somewhat vague, but according to the Washington Post, “Ideas under consideration could include temporary relief for law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are closely related to U.S. citizens or those who have lived in the country a certain number of years — a population that advocates say could reach as high as 5 million.”

This is not the first time that the administration has floated this trial balloon, so I think it’s safe to say that it is contemplating sweeping unilateral executive action that would grant millions of undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and issue work permits that would allow them to earn a legal living while they are here — at least, unless the news media or the public pushes back.

I quite agree with Ross: The media and the public should push back. I say this as someone who is broadly supportive of greater legal immigration, and who has tangled with immigration opponents in the past. Whatever your opinion on immigration policy, I hope it doesn’t involve supporting giving the president extremely broad powers to simply rewrite any law that he thinks ought to be different. To see why, you need only ask yourself a simple question: Would you like to give this power to a president from the opposing party on a law where the two of you disagree?

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