The numbers the White House are using to defend the President’s executive order on immigration seem to be somewhat inflated. It should not be a surprise to anyone that politicians would fudge the numbers to support their actions or policies. After all, lying about the facts has become the norm in the running of our country.
It has repeatedly been stated that the President is not doing anything wrong with regards to his Executive Order. After all Obama is not doing anything that his predecessors had not already. In short, President Obama was simply following their lead. If it was legal for them, then it is legal for him. Precedence equals law.
Press Secretary Josh Ernest has told us: President George H.W. Bush “expanded the family fairness program to cover more than 1.5 million unauthorized spouses and children. This represented about 40 percent of the undocumented population at the time.”
This forty percent is a very important figure and is probably why the White House chose this executive order. This is exactly the percentage that is reported to be affected by the most recent executive order. If these numbers are correct, then we have a perfect example of precedence. Obama is only doing what Bush, a Republican no less, had done before.
As the Washington Post has recently reported, this is not exactly perfect. The Post has reported today that those 1990 numbers are inflated numbers. Though the Post, as recently as last week reported the inflated 1.5 as a defense for the President’s actions, it now is saying that those numbers came from a misunderstanding.
The Post had originally reported in 1990 that the actual number of illegals affected by the executive order was 100,000. 100,000 is far less than the forty percent they, the White House and others were touting as proof of precedent. These original numbers would make the defense untenable as there is no real connection with the numbers.
There is a second difficulty that this defense has, which we must consider. It is one that we will hear nothing about. There is another way in which the two executive orders are different.
In 1990, there was a critical situation that had come to the attention of then President George H. W. Bush. Many families of illegal immigrants were being split up because of the recently enacted Immigration Reform and Control Act. This law, passed under Ronald Regan in 1986 was, in effect, amnesty for illegal aliens.
The problem came in when it husbands, wives, and children were being split by the law. Some would receive amnesty and others sent back to Mexico. The law, as written, was allowing one member of the family to remain and deporting one or more other members. Being that this was neither the spirit nor intent of the law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Regan.
Now we come to the difference between Bush’s and Obama’s executive orders. With Bush, there was a problem caused by a recently enacted law, legally passed. It had caused an undesired affect, and he gave an order that would be acting in the same spirit of that law. The American government never intended the splitting of families. Rather than sending the change through normal channels that could take months or years, he acted in a manner consistent with the law as written.
On the other hand, Obama was not acting to fix a law but to write law. He was not acting with Congress but working around them. Though one could make a case that Republicans were playing politics by not letting bills be brought to the House floor, this is part of the system. American Presidents do not get to pitch fits and speak laws into existence because they did not get their way.
With all this said, it seems that we have a more serious problem. We have one side saying that there is precedence while another says there is none. This is the wrong question.
The right question is whether or not the Constitution lists precedence as a means of determining legality. This should be what we are asking both sides.