There is something deeply troubling about President Obama’s decision to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
It isn’t the underlying policy that is troubling. Just the opposite. We have known for years that we would never deport some 11 million people from our midst. Many have become hard-working, productive members of our society, and Congress, working with the White House, should long ago have provided them a safe pathway out of the shadows.
In that sense, this policy is good. One wonders indeed why the President, having decided to take the plunge, didn’t go further and build a pathway to fuller benefits such as health care for those who establish a solid record of work and good behavior.
Nor is it even the questionable legality that disturbs. On many occasions during our history, presidents have tested the boundaries of their constitutional power through executive orders: Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, his Emancipation Proclamation, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s creation of the Works Progress Administration, FDR’s awful internment of Japanese-Americans, and Harry Truman’s integration of the armed forces were all accomplished through controversial executive orders.