The New Reality: Obama Makes Laws

The thing I found most disconcerting about President Obama’s decision to create a new law without the help of Congress was his explanation for it.

Friday, as you know, Obama unilaterally announced a new class of illegal aliens who are exempt from the nation’s laws regarding deportation, deciding that those who came here illegally before their 16th birthday and have not passed their 30th will not be deported.

One of our readers wondered whether the new legislation required a two thirds vote within the West Wing or just a simple majority. Perhaps it has to be passed both in the East Wing – where the first lady works – and the West Wing before heading to the president for signing.

This frightening new reality – that the president has decided he can create his own laws – was justified in truly Orwellian fashion. In phrasing that would have made Soviet-era Kremlin propagandists glow with fraternal pride, Obama described his new law as a mere administrative reallocation of “resources.”

Here’s what he said Friday:

In the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system, what we’ve tried to do is focus our immigration enforcement resources in the right places . . . This is not a path to citizenship.  It’s not a permanent fix.  This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.

Similarly, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano objected that the executive branch need not “blindly” enforce the law, and must use its “discretion.”

Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner. But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.

Obama’s true rationale for the new law he has created is that he wants more political support from Latinos, and he didn’t get the legislation from Congress that he wanted. In fact, with respect to the latter issue, he said as much, explaining that . . .

I have said time and time and time again to Congress that, send me the DREAM Act, put it on my desk, and I will sign it right away.

Language, in the hands of governments desperate to safeguard and enhance their power, is an exceedingly powerful and dangerous thing. Language, in the form of doublespeak, is used to justify all sorts of tyrannies, petty and great, and if repeated often enough can start to evolve from obvious deception into accepted truth.

Think of what the president has done here. Let’s say, if Obama is reelected, the Supreme Court in 2013 decided that there is no right to abortion in the Constitution, and Congress followed up by outlawing the practice.

Can anyone, at this point, imagine Obama enforcing this law? I can’t. He’ll either interpret the Constitution for himself, or he’ll employ the weapon of language. You can just hear it:

My Justice Department has to make decisions about the allocation of its limited resources, and we’ve decided that prosecution of doctors for performing abortions is not the best use of our attorneys’ time and the department’s money. Who among my opponents would claim we should risk letting rapists, murderers, and armed robbers evade conviction while the hard working men and women of the Department of Justice divert themselves by trying to prosecute doctors for seeking to help women?

A republic is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as . . .

a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.

The United States is a republic. A republic requires the rule of law. If laws are not enforced, or if our government only pretends to enforce them, then we are lawless, and we cannot be a republic.

Cover image: signatureillustration.org

Keith Koffler

By

Award winning journalist Keith Koffler has 16 years of experience covering Washington. As a reporter for CongressDaily, National Journal magazine, and Roll Call, Keith wrote primarily from the White House, covering three presidents and learning as few have the intricacies of the West Wing and the behavior and motivations of its occupants. While mainly stationed at the White House, he also extensively covered Congress and Washington’s lobbyists. Keith has also written for a variety of other publications, including Politico, The Daily Caller, and The London Observer. He currently writes regular opinion columns for Politico. He blogs at whitehousedossier.com.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Voice

    If the law is immoral, then why are we not OK with this?   Letting youth who are productive citizens stay in the U.S. rather than return to poverty … sounds good to me.    The fled poverty (born into it) and came here to our more prosperous nation (yes, “illegally”) to EAT.   CE pushing non-Catholic morality is ridiculous.   If B.O.   announced yesterday that his admin would no longer be using executive resources to enforcing laws that supported abortion clinics…   my guess is CE would have a different perspective on the matter.   I am sick and tired of the Catholic conservative/liberal wars, their “cafe catholicism”.     Both are disgusting and have abandoned the true faith putting earthly, political ideals above Christ. 

  • Karen

    Your argument seems to go against what you are arguing.  If you don’t like cafe catholicism, it seems logical not to support politics where leaders can pick and choose the laws they want to enforce or not. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001299617319 Terry Carlino

    No surprise here. This is the same president who directed his Attorney General not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. He has been making up his own laws all along.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501002865 Tony Frasco

    God bless President Obama.  Truth is objective and not subjective and I’m not sure this president understands this concept or if he does he fails to live by it.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001299617319 Terry Carlino

    Not the point. Obama is not refusing to enforce the law out of some adherence to some principle of Social Justice. He is troweling for votes.
    Second, economic based immigration, while a noble cause to espouse does not override a nations right to control its borders. Such a group of illegal immigrants is sympathetic, one reason Obama picked them for his illegal legislation. It’s easier to demonize those opposed. Most people would agree that of all of the illegal immigrants who are in the U.S. this is the group that most people agree should get some kind of accommodation in law. That would have already happened except Harry Reid prevented Sen. Marco Rubio’s Dream Act from coming to a vote, very much in the same way Lyndon Johnson prevented the a version of the Civil Rights Act from coming to vote during Eisenhower’s presidency, purely to prevent the opposite party from being able to claim a legislative victory.You also show a lack of understanding of the moral underpinnings of these issues. They are not of equivalent moral weight. Abortion is an intrinsically evil act. There are not circumstances under which it is not a sin. Support for economic immigration and the times when it should be supported in the face of a nation state’s right to control its borders for the purpose of national security (which may be economic security) is a prudential act. Catholics may disagree upon when it is a sin, and whether it is a sin at all. For example I would hold it is not a sin to prevent a citizen of a modern industrial nation from illegally crossing the border of another nation because they can make more money there performing menial labor than they can make doing menial labor in their own country

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003586781928 Magdalene Prodigal

    The POTUS has done a lot of things by ‘executive order’–mostly when we are not looking like on New Year’s Eve, etc.   He and his wealthy backers have an agenda and it is to bring down this country and they have set the stage.  When he says he will not enact a la he put in place–wink wink–I thought of Mexico years ago that put laws in place and then 10 years later began persecutions which were, of course, all legal.

    So you cannot protest the POTUS, the media is terribly biased, the government is taking over everything–and making a shambles of it–and does someone not recognize tyranny?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Diana-Maldonado/100002005700083 Diana Maldonado

    What I found troubling was the USCCB came out in favor of Obama’s ruling on the new status for some illegal aliens last Friday. 

    The Bishop’s would do well to encourage the President to follow the laws and to go through the proper channels to change them.  That’s why we’re in a pickle now with Obama – its like the Bishop’s had to counter their criticism of the Obama HHS mandate with praise for his illegal immigrant ruling.   

    We have the most generous immigration laws of any country in the world.  We allow almost a million people to enter legally each year.  No other country on earth does that.  I believe that all along the Bishop’s have wanted an open border for the Mexican people to come and go without any restrictions whatsoever.  I’ve got news for them – that is essentially what is already happening and Planned Parenthood has swapped the Mexican women right out from under the feet of the Church and indoctrinated them into having abortions at record high numbers for Hispanics in this country.  

    How does one create a good citizen who loves America if you first allow them to break the law without consequences.  Almost a million people a year go through the process, pay the fees, wait their turn and then enter illegally yet the Bishop’s want the U.S. government to allow unfettered access by the Mexican people.

  • Voice

     Terry,

    Hmmm…  I wonder if you’d feel the same way if you were born in Mexico and needed to provide for your family…     And I am sure Jesus would welcome these people, and care for them.   In the Kingdom, there are no borders.    The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. 

  • Voice

     What makes you think I support Obama?    I’m Catholic.   I look at each issue for it’s moral implications.    Obama makes many decisions that violate Catholic teaching.   Just not this time.   His decision here is morally superior.    See my reply to Terry above.    Sadly, Catholics tend to have a political bias (here, conservative) when we must believe BOTH/AND.    Anti-abortion AND Social Action.   Real Catholicism.   Read the Catechism sections on Social Justice and then decide if Obama’s decision (yes, done for political reasons as do all politicians) is not consistent with Catholic social action teaching. 

  • Amy Mitchell

     There is an agreement that this group of illegal aliens has a moral claim for our help, please see that a moral means to that end is preferrable to an immoral means.
    The president is supposed to be supporting the laws of the land, not deciding which ones he finds useful to neglect.
    The government should deal with this and has been trying to do this but political maneuvers have made that difficult. That shouldn’t mean we resort to having the top official in the land, brag about having power above the law. That is a dangerous precedent and we might just as well make the guy dictator for life.
    No. Obama’s decision is not consistent with Catholic social action because it uses an immoral means to obtain a good. We aren’t talking about a  average american here, choosing to break a law they consider immoral. If he resigned because he could no longer uphold the law of the land, that would be moral.

  • Jonathanmylius

    According to our Constitution, the elected President of our Republic must abide and conform as well as defend our sacred document…..there are three equal governmental bodies that are entrusted to keep things going in this country; to assure all of our guaranteed rights (inalienable rights) the freedom to speech, et-al.
    This particular president has done so much above and beyond, outside his “constitutional” rights as executive in the “Executive” branch of the U.S….I pity your “altruistic and blithe” response to morality; morality that doesn’t have a specific label attached: (ie) Catholic-Morality vs Jewish Morality…..Recall how Christ so aptly responded to the question put forth re: gov’t. and personal faith: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and……………” We are not abandoning our cherished “true” faith just attempting to be as faithful to the electorate/citizens and “faithfilled” to our cherished and beloved Christ who guides and inspires all.

MENU