One of the bits of genius installed by the founders of this country was three co-equal branches of government, each responsible for a different part of the governing turf. And the function of the three is not only to be the primary governmental institution in its explicit area of control, but to serve as a "check” on the others and provide “balance” by not letting one branch get more powerful than another.
In the area of immigration, to this point, the executive branch, under Barack Obama, has mostly done that with notable exceptions. But now, it appears, all appearances of following the law as laid down by Congress seems to have been thrown under the bus. The Obama administration has, for all intents and purposes, decided what how the law will be interpreted whether Congress likes it or not. After all, there’s an election in the offing, activist groups to be satisfied and votes to be bought:
Bowing to pressure from immigrant rights activists, the Obama administration said Thursday that it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria, such as attending school, having family in the military or having primary responsible for other family members’ care.
The move marks a major step for President Obama, who for months has said he does not have broad categorical authority to halt deportations and said he must follow the laws as Congress has written them.
But in letters to Congress on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she does have discretion to focus on “priorities” and that her department and the Justice Department will review all ongoing cases to see who meets the new criteria.
“This case-by-case approach will enhance public safety,” she said. “Immigration judges will be able to more swiftly adjudicate high-priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.”
Right … and to totally ignore cases against illegal immigrants who meet the arbitrary standards the administration finds to be “acceptable”.
This, of course, makes it clear to any illegal immigrant what the bare minimum is necessary to avoid deportation. It’s a government sponsored “okay” to stay illegally. Just meet one of the criteria (or appear too) and we’ll ignore the law for you.
However you feel about illegal immigration, we’ve always featured ourselves as a nation of laws, not men. A nation of laws is one which follows laws and, if they don’t like the law, feel it is fair, or whatever, go through the process of changing the law or abolishing it. What a nation of laws doesn’t do is ignore the law or arbitrarily pick and choose the parts it will follow. Imagine, if you will, deciding that you weren’t going to follow certain laws because you felt they were unfair. Say, doing 25 in a school zone. You tell the officer who stops you that doing 25 is not fuel efficient and you’ve chosen to ignore it and do 45. How far do you think that would get you in terms of avoiding a ticket?
In this case we have an administration that has decided to pick and choose what part of laws it will enforce. It isn’t the first. But this sort of blatant disregard for enforcing the law is both dangerous and something which needs to be stopped and stopped now.
If the executive branch finds a law to be something it has concerns or problems with, it’s recourse should be changing it through the legislative body, per the Constitution. Or taking it to the Judicial branch for a Constitutional check, if that’s appropriate. What it must not do is precisely what it is doing – ignoring Congress and literally taking the law into its own hands.
That is the law of men – arbitrary, selective, dangerous and wrong.
In a decision today, the Supreme Court basically upheld the portion of the Arizona state law that sanctions employers who hire illegal immigrants:
The 5-3 decision upholds the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007 and its so-called business death penalty for employers who are caught repeatedly hiring illegal immigrants. The state law also requires employers to check the federal E-Verify system before hiring new workers, a provision that was also upheld Thursday.
Thursday’s decision is a defeat for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, several civil-rights groups and the Obama administration, all of whom opposed the Arizona law and its sanctions on employers. They argued that federal law said states may not impose "civil or criminal sanctions" on employers.
This ruling boosts state’s arguments that they have at least some rights in terms of controlling illegal immigration (particularly when the federal government refuses to act). The three dissenters disagreed:
In dissent were Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. They said federal law prohibited states from imposing their own immigration-related rules on employers. Justice Elena Kagan sat out the case.
Of course federal law prohibits, or tries to prohibit such rules by states, but the court just changed that, didn’t they? It gives states back some of their rights and reduces the power of the federal government in an area where I think it’s power needed to be reduced, particularly since it appears the problem is out of control with the fed in charge.
I have mixed feelings about the so-called “death penalty” for businesses. I assume, or at least hope that there are appeals, etc. before it is finally imposed because such a penalty effects more than just the business owners in many cases.
By ruling that the states have the right to impose such a penalty though, illegal immigrants will find gaining employment much harder than it was before as there are few businesses who are going to figure that saving a little money hiring an illegal is worth the “death penalty” if caught.
Oh … and to save the drive by commenters the trouble – being against “illegal immigration”, note the term emphasized, does not mean one is against “immigration”, thankyouverymuch.
First up on the “thee but not me” list of being for “civil discourse” but not practicing it, is our old buddy from a show which should be called “Beanball”, Chris Matthews.
Chris is a great proponent of “civil discourse” unless you try to apply it to him. He is apparently attempting to repeal Goodwin’s law or to so cheapen the term “Nazi” that it no longer carries the horror it should. Mr. Moral Equivalence’s latest? Here’s his intro:
Good evening. I’m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight: Glenn Beck shoots off his mouth. Today Jared Loughner pled not guilty. So has the right wing to the charge it promotes trouble with its endless rants about guns and hatred of government. Take Glenn Beck — please. He targets what he calls radicals in Washington who, quote, "believe in communism," and "you’re going to have to shoot them in the head." Gotcha!
We’ve got a Republican member of Congress out there going full bore on this stuff, saying he wants him and his fellow members of Congress to carry guns at the Capitol. Welcome to the State of the Union 2011. The violent rhetoric of the right won’t stop. It’s our top story tonight.
There’s your set up – the “violent rhetoric of the right won’t stop”, and it’s his top story. Lead with a discredited Glenn Beck story. Got it.
Commercial break and what do we see and hear? A few vids of Obama, McConnell and Cantor – discussing each side’s take on Obama economic policy.
And Matthews next statement? The next one after seeing the three vids noted?
MATTHEWS: Don’t you just love the new Republican Party? We have the Tea Party people with the placards and the Nazi stuff, and then you have these two Junior Chamber types representing them in Washington.
The irony bug hasn’t yet found Matthews apparently. The guy (and much of the left) are walking, talking hypocrites. Palin is lambasted for putting crosshairs on a campaign map months ago and 3 days ago, what does Matthews and company do? Yeah, put crosshairs on the US Capitol with the title “Fire on the Right”. Uh, the word “on” is significant when used in conjunction with a crosshairs graphic, wouldn’t you say – using the left’s standard for this sort of thing and all. Notice it isn’t “fire from the right” or “fire of the right” or even “fire by the right.”
It is “Fire on the Right” which, one assumes, given their instant pop analysis of the Tucson shooting would mean that if any assassin of a left leaning persuasion should shoot at a politician (or anyone) on the right in the next, oh, 6 months or so, it’s Matthews fault. Because his graphic and its title told them to do so.
Oh, and how did Matthews use the graphic? Hypocritically, of course:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Leading off tonight: Words and actions. Are people affected by what they hear? If not, why do people speak? If the messages people get day after day have no effect on their behavior, why do big corporations spend millions on advertising? Why do politicians? Does the daily climate of attack, the constant torrent of angry attack and questioning of loyalty, of legitimacy, of Americanness, stir people up? Does it trigger the zealots, the unstable, those who are a bit of both?
The politically correct judgment is that we can`t blame anyone for what we`ve seen recently, that words don`t matter in this discussion of people`s violent actions. But do we really believe words don`t matter, that they don`t incite, that they don`t cause trouble? Do we really believe you can say anything you want about someone and not expose them to the actions of a zealot or a nut?
Well we’ll see, won’t we Chris, now that using the left’s standards, you’ve done more than enough to incite “a zealot or a nut”.
Meanwhile down in GA, we have a different and appallingly ignorant revocation of Goodwin’s law and even more moral equivalence:
A Spanish-language newspaper in Georgia has drawn bipartisan criticism for publishing a doctored photograph depicting the state’s new governor as a Nazi.
Some whackado editor of a Spanish-language paper depicts a governor who has been in office all of a week as a Nazi. Why?
But Navarro said the picture represents the fear immigrants in Georgia feel with the arrival of Deal to the state’s top office, because of Deal’s strong anti-immigrant rhetoric during the last campaign.
Well there you go. He disagrees with Deal’s political approach to the issue – which is, btw, not “anti-immigration”, but against “illegal immigration” (I refuse to let the left conflate the two). So what do you do? Depict your political opponent as a Nazi obviously.
And here’s the irony – the boob depicts Deal as a Nazi (and everyone knows how they dealt with opposition press) and then says:
Navarro, who immigrated to the United States from Colombia, said he printed the picture knowing he didn’t have to fear retaliation from the governor because of the freedom of speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Yeah, that happened all the time in Nazi Germany Mr. Navarro, you ignorant jackwagon.
Yeesh … you just can’t make some of this stuff up.
Irony alert – “Mean-spirited” Chancellor of UC Berkeley uses “hateful rhetoric” to attack political opponents
The LA Times brings us yet another example of the apparent immunity to irony most folks on the liberal side of the house tend to exhibit. This time it is the Chancellor of UC Berkeley – an institution probably considered the cherry on top of the sundae of liberal academia.
Apparently Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau sent out a campus-wide email in which he blamed the shooting of Rep. Giffords in Tucson on Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigrants and the failure to pass the DREAM act. The email was sent out Monday. Giffords was shot the previous Saturday.
In the email, Birgeneau said, "I believe that it is not a coincidence that this calamity has occurred in a state which has legislated discrimination against undocumented persons."
Well, as a matter of fact, it is a coincidence that it happened in Arizona regardless of anyone’s views on the immigration enforcement law the state passed. In fact, it appears immigration wasn’t even on Loughner’s rather weirded-out radar screen.
Birgenau also made it clear he believed a "climate in which demonization of others goes unchallenged and hateful speech is tolerated" was also partly responsible for the shooting. Subsequent revelations seem to pretty much debunk this theory. 0 for 2.
Speaking of demonization and hateful speech, Birgenau went on to say, "this same mean-spirited xenophobia played a major role in the defeat of the DREAM Act by legislators in Washington, leaving many exceptionally talented and deserving young people, including our own undocumented students, painfully in limbo with regard to their futures in this country,"
“Mean-spirited xenophobia”? It couldn’t be that many who opposed the legislation saw it as giving an unfair advantage to those who had chosen to ignore our laws over those who were playing by the rules could it? It couldn’t be that those who oppose the law have absolutely no problem with legal immigration and actually agree our system is broken and needs to be fixed, could it?
Nope, they must be “mean-spirited xenophobes” if they opposed the law. The irony impaired say so.
By the way, this is also a great example of “projection” – another thing the left seems to be unable to spot. Blame the other side for doing what you’re caught doing, i.e. using overgeneralizations, demonization and hateful speech to attack your opponent – while in the middle of decrying it.
It just doesn’t get much better than this.
Apparently that depends on how Justice Kennedy decides. Of the 8 justices on the case (Kagen recused herself) he appears to be the only one whose final stance is unknown. As Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS blog says:
Were Kennedy to vote to uphold the law, despite apparent reservations, the result probably would be a 5-3 win for Arizona. But if he voted to strike down the law, there seemed likely to be only three other votes to go with his, making the vote 4-4 — but Arizona still would win, because such a split vote would summarily affirm a Ninth Circuit Court decision that upheld the state’s worker control law.
However, as he further notes, a split would only apply to that particular case and not more broadly. It would also indicate the probability of any cases that follow it would most likely fail:
Evenly divided results, however, do not set a precedent beyond the individual case, so the result in the future, if all nine Justices took part, might well come out differently: Justice Kagan’s vote could be the swing vote. And other test cases are on the way — including one involving an even broader Arizona anti-immigration law, and a set of alien restrictions adopted by the local government in Hazleton, Pa.
So stay tuned. Worst case for AZ is it gets part of the law affirmed if there’s a split. However it would also mean that the ability for states to address immigration problems would most likely be dead. Supporters have got to hope Kennedy comes down on the side of the right of a state to address the problem that the Federal Government seems unwilling and/or unable to address.
Apparently if you don’t like the law and you’re the Homeland Security Department – you know, the department charged with ensuring your safety – you can just quietly refuse to do your job. Judicial Watch clues us in:
A month after the Department of Homeland Security launched a covert program to dismiss pending deportations there’s been an increase of more than 700% in the number of cases that have been dropped by the government in one of the nation’s busiest immigration court systems.
In August Homeland Security officials quietly began to systematically dismiss the pending removal of illegal immigrants, even when expulsion was virtually guaranteed or the aliens had a criminal record. The move, first reported by Texas’s largest newspaper, stunned the legal profession and baffled immigration attorneys who said it was “absolutely fantastic” for their illegal alien clients.
Instead of enforcing the law, they’ve decided to interpret it as they wish and to modify the criteria for expulsion to whatever they arbitrarily decide.
However, EOIR’s liaison with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Raed Gonzalez, said he was briefed on the guidelines in August directly by DHS’ deputy chief counsel in Houston and described a broader set of internal criteria.
Government attorneys in Houston were instructed to exercise prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis for illegal immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least two years and have no serious criminal history, Gonzalez said.
To qualify for dismissal, defendants also must have no felony record or any misdemeanor convictions involving DWI, sex crimes or domestic violence, he said.
Now before some nimrod who never reads the blog beams in and claims I’m “anti-immigration”, let’s be clear. No, I’m not. But we have a proper and legal way of immigrating into this country and an improper and illegal way of doing so. The government’s job is to enforce the law and its priority should be the protection of the rights of its citizens. Decisions to arbitrarily enforce law or not enforce it at all shouldn’t be within the ability of the government’s enforcement agencies to decide. We have a process for that – it’s called legislation.
As I recall, law enforcement agencies require oaths of their agents to “enforce the law”. Not to “internally” decide to modify them to suit their tastes or a political agenda.
I understand the “system” is broken. But “clearing a backlog” by dismissing cases against law breakers on whatever grounds simply encourages more of the illegal behavior they’ve displayed. If there’s really no risk in flaunting the law, there’s no reason not to engage in the behavior that breaks it.
Obviously the immigration system needs to be overhauled and immigration brought into the 21st century with a speedier and less costly process that better serves all.
But that is a separate issue from the subject of this post. It is dangerous and destructive to have government agencies who have been charged with enforcing the law to be internally deciding what if any of the law they will enforce. It’s just another example of the government not serving the needs of those it is Constitutionally charged with protecting. It has, however, become almost a trademark of this administration.
According to the NYT, Obama’s MTV appearance wasn’t as “light” as those who proposed it hoped it would be and essentially he was on the defensive for most of it.
I didn’t watch, so I can’t say, however if true, it simply validates the overall feeling of frustration and dissatisfaction with the present state of affairs. He was hit with a question of unemployment and DADT. Probably the most interesting, at least to me, was this:
A graduate student, citing Arizona’s immigration law and the opposition to an Islamic center in New York, said race relations in the country seem to have deteriorated since the idealism inspired by Mr. Obama’s election, and he asked, “What happened?” Mr. Obama said racial progress has been fitful throughout history, and “oftentimes misunderstandings and antagonism surfaces most strongly when economic times are tough.”
What has “race” to do with either Arizona’s immigration law or the Ground Zero Mosque? Seriously – if those coming across our border and wanting to build a mosque next to where Islamic extremists killed 3,000 Americans were lily white, would it change the argument?
If they were white Muslims would everyone say, “oh, well, never mind – build your mosque where ever you want”?
If those coming into our country illegally were blond haired and blue eyed, would the prevailing consensus be, “hey, that’s fine, no problem”?
No. It wouldn’t. This is more of the left’s attempt to create the narrative that any opposition to radical Islam or illegal immigration is based in race hatred. Would I guess that’s probably the case for a small minority? Sure. But is it the case for the vast majority?
Consider the questions I’ve asked and whether or not you’re concerned because the majority of those coming across our border are Mexican or because they’re doing so illegally. Or whether your opposition to the GZM is based in race hatred or the inappropriateness of the attempt to build such a structure representing the religion of the zealot killers next to the site of those they killed?
Certainly there is still some work to do in the area of race relations – but it is not at all helpful to try to invent it where it really doesn’t exist. Of course you can’t call your opponents “Nazis”, “brown shirts” or “racists” if you don’t do the groundwork first, can you?
As everyone knows, Harry Reid is in the fight of his electoral life in Nevada. The Republican senate candidate, Sharon Angle, is within the margin of error on most polls looking at the race. So Harry needs something to attract more votes, obviously.
Hey, when you’re the Senate Majority Leader, you get to set that body’s legislative agenda and decide what bills considered by the Senate will or won’t contain and how they’ll be scheduled on the floor for votes.
So why not use that power to at least attempt some things which, while they may not succeed, will at least give one the “hey I tried, but it was the nasty Republicans, like my opponent who killed it”.
With that in mind, Reid has decided that the DREAM act needs to be a part of the defense authorization bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he will add the DREAM Act, a controversial immigration measure, to a defense policy bill the Senate will take up next week.
The decision means the defense bill, which often passes with bipartisan support, will be home to two major, thorny political issues – the other being the repeal of the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy.
Reid called the DREAM Act "really important" and said it should be passed because it provides a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military. DREAM is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act.
"I know we can’t do comprehensive immigration reform," Reid said at a news conference. "But those Republicans we had in the last Congress have left us."
This, again, is one of the reasons we have the mess we have now. This is an obvious and transparent attempt at vote buying. It is calculated to appeal to a bloc of voters who’ve been dissatisfied with Reid’s performance on their behalf. It is pure special interest politics that gives an incumbent like Reid an advantage. And if it goes down to defeat, he can at least point to it and say “I tried”. If it manages to be passed, he can point to it and take credit. Maybe that will get him just enough votes to slide by.
Pure short-term, electoral politics – a consistent problem with our system.
And I love how “serving in the military” is the equivalent of “going to college”. Why, do they have minefields in the college square. PKM’s in the admin building sweeping the quadrangle? IEDs in the parking lots?
Yeah, that’s an aside, but you get my drift. As usual, legislation cobbled together with no real thought except short-term gain and haphazardly thrown into another bill which has absolutely noting to do with immigration. That’s how you get this morass of bad law we endure that features contradictions and unintended consequences galore.
We all have to hope that Harry Reid becomes a second Tom Daschle – a sitting Senate Majority Leader shown the door by his constituents. He embodies everything that’s wrong with today’s politicians. Let Harry enjoy his golden years in forced retirement.
A very interesting sentence in the judge’s injunction against the Arizona immigration law caught my eye yesterday. In her ruling, which voided much of the law, Judge Susan Bolton said:
“Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced,” she said.
Of course the real status quo is federal non-enforcement of immigration laws – thereby driving the state of Arizona and other states to take matters into their own hands.
That’s not the status quo Judge Bolton is talking about, but it is the reality of immigration enforcement in this country.
This obviously isn’t the end of the road for the law, but I’d guess it’s on life support as the appeals process goes forward. Bolton’s ruling is likely to reflect how the other levels of the federal judiciary will rule on the law.
I have to admit to being a bit surprised that she ruled against law enforcement checking immigration status while processing someone for a different reason and left intact the portion of the law making it a crime to stop a vehicle in traffic or block traffic to hire someone off the street. However she did block a provision that barred illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places.
On the political side of things, AZ’s Democratic Attorney General, a possible candidate for governor, thinks he has a winner:
Terry Goddard, the Arizona attorney general who opposed the law and is a possible Democratic opponent to Ms. Brewer, was quick to condemn her for signing it. “Jan Brewer played politics with immigration, and she lost,” he said in a statement.
Brewer can only hope he keeps saying that until the election, because I’d guess – as much of a hot button as this is in AZ and because of the overwhelming support of the AZ voters – it’s really a loser for Goddard and the Democrats.
Even John McCain and Jon Kyle weighed in on the ruling:
“Instead of wasting taxpayer resources filing a lawsuit against Arizona and complaining that the law would be burdensome,” Mr. McCain said in a joint statement with Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, “the Obama administration should have focused its efforts on working with Congress to provide the necessary resources to support the state in its efforts to act where the federal government has failed to take responsibility.”
But of course, the failure of the administration to take responsibility is the ‘status quo’, and it appears, unfortunately, that it will be “preserved”.
William Jacobson over at Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion (a great blog and always a worthwhile read) lays out the probable outcome of the DoJ case against the AZ immigration law:
Based on reports of the hearing before the federal District Court Judge yesterday, it appears that the provision of the Arizona immigration law requiring law enforcement to verify immigration status is likely to survive, while other aspects creating independent state criminal sanctions will not.
This outcome — with the caveat that a Judge’s comments do not necessarily predict the outcome — makes sense legally. There is no interference with the federal administration of the immigration laws if the state, after confirming that a person is here illegally, merely turns the person over to federal authorities.
That means, essentially that the part of the law that will survive is that which requires all law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone of which have a reasonable suspicion may be here illegally. And if they’re determined to be here illegally, turn them over to federal authorities.
And that’s where the probable “nullification” may take place –i.e. the nullification of the intent of the AZ law which had at its foundation the apprehension, removal and deportation of illegals found in the state. As Jacobson says:
While the survival of this aspect of the Arizona immigration law would still outrage opponents, the practical effect would be to allow federal authorities to nullify the state law in practice by refusing to take custody of or prosecute those turned over by state authorities.
Indeed, this is what happens sometimes in Rhode Island, when the State Police notify federal authorities and there are no outstanding warrants on the person.
Willful disregard for the law.
Isn’t one of the foundational principles of our nation “the rule of law” and not the “rule of men”? Isn’t such willful disregard counter to that principle? How does one count on being equal with all other men before the law when the government can arbitrarily decide what it will and won’t enforce?
All questions I’d like to see asked in court of the Department of Justice. Put them on trial as well. Make them explain why they feel entitled to ignore some law and rigorously enforce others.
If we don’t like a law, think it is wrong and should be taken off the books, there are several methods on the books to allow that – the courts or Congress (at a federal level) to name two. But selective non-enforcement – at least in a country that purports to be governed by the “rule of law” – isn’t one of them. And it drives states, such as AZ, to understandably take matters into their own hands.
It is the DoJ and ICE that should be in the docket – not AZ.