Earlier this week, Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky and John Malcom wrote:
According to the Associated Press, as well as House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., President Barack Obama’s plan to provide executive amnesty to more than 5 million illegal immigrants is no different than unilateral actions that were taken by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
However, this claim plays a bit fast and loose with history and fails to explain the significant difference between Obama going against the will of Congress, which considered and rejected the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act on several occasions, including when both houses of Congress were controlled by the president’s party, and Reagan and Bush, who made administrative corrections designed to carry out congressional intent.
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization ….” And it is the president’s constitutional duty, under Article II, Section 3, to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed ….”
In short, while Reagan and Bush worked closely with Congress to implement the comprehensive legislation that Congress had passed (in the case of Reagan) or would pass shortly thereafter (in the case of Bush), Obama is bypassing Congress entirely. He is unconstitutionally revising existing law and, without congressional approval, imposing new ones that have been explicitly rejected by Congress time and time again, thereby setting himself up as a kingmaker (or king) on immigration policy.
By doing so, the president is establishing a dangerous precedent that violates fundamental principles of separation of powers that serve as a bulwark to protect our liberties and that established a government of laws and not of men.