It’s a bold prediction, but not one without foundation. In the days immediately following a conservative wave of historic proportions which swept Republicans into power in both chambers of Congress, President Obama promised that he would act unilaterally to reform the immigration system. While the details are not clear what exactly an executive order would look like, what is clear is the lack of respect such an order would have for our Constitutional system of checks and balances.
The foundation of our republic was based on constitutional constraints, which were specifically created to prevent any one branch of government from gaining too much power. Each branch of government was to be allotted specific sets of authority: Congress to legislate, and the Executive to enforce the laws that have been created. In particular our founding fathers envisioned our executive branch as one of the weaker branches of government.
If President Obama’s executive order creates legal status for those here without documentation, then he will have stepped outside the bounds of enforcing the laws and be clearly in the bounds of creating laws.
Without going into whether such policy itself would be wise, it is clear that this growing power of the executive is threatening to all Americans. The Constitution did not add clauses which stipulated that Congress was the lawmaking authority unless they are unpopular. It does not give the President the power to bypass it if those in Congress are not cooperating with the President’s legislative agenda. Indeed, much good legislation has gone to Congress to die as bills; such is the way of our constitutional republic.
Politically, this move would prevent any future possibility of bipartisan cooperation, which (to say the least), has been beyond strained. While there are several instances on each side that I can point to which have contributed to the current partisan gridlock, it is important for us to remember that one of our President’s campaign selling points was his commitment to transcend the partisan nature of Congress, and work with Congressional Republicans. Wilfully defying the proper process as outlined in the Constitution, and politically snubbing the elected Representatives of Congress that were elected by the American people, is a guaranteed political failure which will haunt the President during the last two years of his presidency. Any such move will be a rallying cry for Republicans frustrated not only by an overreaching executive, but also by an endorsement of what would likely be amnesty-only immigration reform. Any hope for bipartisan cooperation would die with this executive order.
So then what should those concerned do? There’s an old saying that elections have consequences. Impeachment is not a viable option to remove President Obama from office and would be politically damaging to the Republican Party. Instead conservatives should focus their attention on the upcoming 2016 presidential primary. We need to not only pick a solid candidate who has the charismatic appeal and experience to lead, but someone who understands and respects the constitutional limitations that come with the office.
In the meantime make your voice heard to any elected representative you have: we must restore the proper balance of power in our government.