On Friday Pres. Obama altered U.S. immigration law via executive order. In one of those mind-boggling moments that quietly reveals the hypocrisy on both the established right and left (and makes the Intramuralist sarcastically snicker), the use of executive order has come under increased scrutiny. Let’s objectively dissect the issue here.
An executive order is a decree issued by any executive branch of government (could be local, state, or federal, for example) in which law is either established or changed. While the decree bypasses the legislative branch of government, it is not free from judicial review.
American presidents have issued executive orders since George #1 was in the White House, yet contrary to popular belief, there exists no explicit constitutional statute that authorizes such action. Presidents have been following the precedent of their predecessors, based on the Constitution’s vague granting of “executive power,” combined with their sworn charge to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
The purpose of executive orders varies greatly. Via such directives, FDR prohibited the “hoarding” of gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates in 1933; in 1964, Lyndon Johnson created the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of JFK; and in 1969, it was Richard Nixon who prohibited employment discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, etc. in the federal civilian workforce.
As the practice has evolved — again, based on presidential precedent as opposed to clear constitutional authority — the frequency of usage has remained high (FDR issued over 3700 orders; Truman utilized the process almost 900 times, compared to Bill Clinton’s 364, George W. Bush’s 291, and Barack Obama’s thus far 127). However, the controversy of the practice — due especially to the questioned motive for bypassing congressional approval — has increased significantly.
In 2007, Pres. Bush issued an order to expand the use of approved stem cell lines in the way he deemed was ethical. Some wanted no limits, as the research is considered extremely helpful in curing future disease; some wanted a complete ban, concerned about the intentional destruction of human life in the process. Bush decided via executive order what was ethical.
As Governor of Texas, Rick Perry issued an order requiring all Texas girls to receive the HPV vaccination. Supporters of the order cite the possibility of obtaining cervical cancer; opposers don’t believe it is government’s role to dictate vaccine, especially when the purported dangers are sexually transmitted.
And on Friday, Pres. Obama eased American deportation policy, halting the deportation of illegal immigrants’ offspring. Supporters believe it’s humane, as the fact that children (up to age 30) are in this country illegally is no fault of their own; opposers worry about the impact on unemployment and long term cost. The issue is complex and has multiple aspects to discern, especially, currently, in regard to how much committed crime is allowed by the illegal immigrant allowed to stay.
Some claim Obama had no authority to alter immigration law on his own, yet they were quite comfortable when Bush 43 issued his directives. Others enthusiastically cheered Obama’s Friday move, forgetting the outrage they once articulated under Bush. In other words, support or outrage of the use of executive order depends most on the executive and on the order — as opposed to its actual use.
Back to the Intramuralist’s snicker… directed again toward both the established right and left…
Last September, when asked why he simply doesn’t alter immigration law via executive order, Pres. Obama said, “I cannot do this on my own because there are laws on the books.” Those laws were still in existence Friday. Hence, since previously Obama felt he didn’t have the authority to do what he just did, I must conclude that the fall, potentially close election is a factor.
Also snickering… previously many on the right have also believed that immigration laws should be altered, finding an effective and compassionate way to handle the influx of illegal immigrants. But they, too, seem well aware that there exists this fall election.
My bottom line, friends, is that politics is motivating policy. Politics is also motivating the method used to enact the policy, and politics motivates both our opposition and support.
Sometimes, I just can’t stand politics.
In search of wisdom… respectfully,