President Obama's lawless executive order to extend visas (or defer deportation) for some illegal immigrants went into effect yesterday, and media outlets were quick to rush down and interview the applying non-citizens. Most of them seemed nice enough and I don't know a soul who would suggest they don't bleed like the rest of us. It's not hard to feel sympathy for an individual who through no fault of their own was brought here illegally, has since assimilated, attends school or holds full-time employment, and feels American down to their very core.
Good for them. Except the president has skirted the law to help them skirt the law with a thrown together policy that is ultimately destined to fail.
For one, circumventing Congress to change the law is a breach of power and most likely unconstitutional (with this Supreme Court, you never know, but its certainly not a policy that gives merit to representative democracy). The immigrants who sign up for this amnesty program could be signing up for quick deportation once President Obama's executive order is revoked or overturned. As it should be.
Secondly, any criteria to apply for "legal" illegal status is dubious at best and creates the potential for gross fraud and abuse. After all, how does one acquire the legal paperwork to prove they illegally entered the country during the qualified time to be deemed acceptably illegal? And if you came here illegally outside the qualified time frame, why not simply pretend to meet the criteria? How do you disprove such a claim? So long as you're under thirty and have established a stateside address, what racist would doubt you haven't lived and worked here for the required five years?
There's also the issue of those who are over thirty but were brought here illegally by their parents twenty years ago. Why do they get denied the opportunity of their younger cousins and siblings? Are we splitting up families now? The kids are alright but the parents have to go?
This isn't sound policy or even an acceptable substitute for the DREAM Act. It's a nightmare for immigration enforcement, a nightmare for the courts, and a nightmare for businesses trying to follow the law and hire long-term help. Which is why laws are best passed through the constitutional and legislative process, not made up willy-nilly by the wave of a leader's scepter to woo votes in the midst of a political campaign.