In case you missed it, President Obama last week issued another directive to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, this time ordering agents to use “prosecutorial discretion” when detaining and deporting the illegal alien parents of minor children.
According to The Washington Times, the nine-page memo was “the latest in a series of directives issued by ICE and by Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano that try to lay out priorities for whom the government will detain and try to deport.” It’s important to note that while Napolitano and other department heads sign these directives, they are actually just carrying out Obama’s policy visions.
Members of Congress know this, which is what makes their claims – predictable as they are – that the president is somehow violating the law by issuing such directives all the more disingenuous.
Take House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. Following issuance of this recent ICE memo, he said in a statement, “President Obama has once again abused his authority and unilaterally refused to enforce our current immigration laws by directing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to stop removing broad categories of unlawful immigrants.”
Goodlatte, whose committee is crafting a legalization bill for millions of young illegals, went onto say that Obama’s action “poisons the debate,” and that he is trying to “politicize the issue.”
Really? This president, like all presidents, is merely using the power of his office to push his political agenda. But does what he did in this routine, mundane case rise to the level of criminality? No.
And what’s more, the fact that any modern president has the ability to utilize the vast federal bureaucracy to wield the incredible power he has – much more power than our founding fathers ever envisioned the Executive Branch could or should wield – is the fault of successive Congresses.
For decades the Legislative Branch has passed laws which authorize the creation of one federal department or agency after another, until now there are literally hundreds of them. These laws not only created the various bureaucracies, but empowered them to define for themselves how they should interpret and implement said legislation. And, over the course of decades, presidents have used that bureaucracy to enact their political agenda.
What’s more, the agencies themselves have taken on a life of their own. Career entrenched bureaucrats who are shielded from voters have also, for years, used the power of their positions to impose their own worldviews – generally through policies that have resulted in tens of thousands of freedom-stealing, pervasive and costly regulations which cover virtually every activity in America, both public and private.
And this massive bureaucracy falls under the control of the Executive Branch – in other words, the president.
This so-called administrative state is now like a fourth branch of government. And presidents use it to bypass the very Congress which helped create it in order to implement their own policies.
The constitutional separation of powers has become so blurred through a combination of haphazard legislation, presidential overreach and a meddling federal judiciary that the framers would never recognize the government they created.
So it’s no wonder today’s legislators can’t figure out what does and does not constitute presidential criminality.
Enacting clear-cut legislation that is not several hundred pages long, which does not confer power on an “agency” and which succinctly describes what actions are and are not permissible is one solution to this problem. Only then can there be no question about what a law is intended to do, and what is expected of the agency or department charged with enforcing it.
Beyond that, if the Legislative Branch is serious about restraining the power of future presidents, it should start by dismantling the vast administrative state controlled by the Executive Branch. In his book, The Liberty Amendments, Mark Levin suggests a constitutional amendment that would force Congress to regularly and periodically reauthorize each and every department and agency of the federal government; failure to reauthorize would mean the end of the department or agency. That’s worth some serious consideration as well.
There is no dispute that modern-day presidents abuse power and routinely act outside of the constitutional parameters established by the framers. But they do so because they have been empowered by a Legislative Branch that has been content to outsource its authority.