According to a report in POLITICO, President Obama is expected to make good on his executive amnesty threat on Friday during an event in Las Vegas, despite saying repeatedly over the years that he does not have the authority to change immigration laws from the Oval Office.
House Speaker John Boehner, who warned the President shortly after the 2014 midterm elections that acting alone on immigration would “poison the well,” has taken notice of Obama’s past statements. After some research, his office found President Obama directly claimed 22 times he couldn’t take executive action on immigration because he doesn’t have the authority.
Over the weekend President Obama was questioned during an overseas trip about his change in position with executive action looming and tried to argue his position on the extent of his authority to change immigration law hasn’t changed at all.
“Actually, my position hasn’t changed. When I was talking to the advocates, their interest was in me, through executive action, duplicating the legislation that was stalled in Congress,” Obama told reporters.
When Obama says he was speaking with “advocates,” he’s referring to radio interviews on programs with open-border hosts, at La Raza events and during a number of interviews conducted by Univision and Telemundo. Here are a few examples:
“My cabinet has been working very hard on trying to get it done, but ultimately, I think somebody said the other day, I am president, I am not king,” Obama told Univision in October 2010, when asked why he had yet to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
“America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the President, am obligated to enforce the law. I don’t have a choice about that. That’s part of my job. But I can advocate for changes in the law so that we have a country that is both respectful of the law but also continues to be a great nation of immigrants. … With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed …. [W]e’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws. There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.”
“I swore an oath to uphold the laws on the books …. Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.”
“I’m not a king. My job as the head of the executive branch ultimately is to carry out the law,” Obama told Telemundo. “When it comes to enforcement of our immigration laws, we’ve got some discretion. We can prioritize what we do. But we can’t simply ignore the law.”
“I can’t do these things just by myself.” He reiterated that sentiment in a February 2013 interview with Telemundo. “I’m not a king,” he said.
FactCheck.org, The New York Times, and The Washington Post aren’t buying Obama’s argument and make it clear the President has in fact changed his position.
This is a flagrant untruth: “In fact, most of the questions that were posed to the president over the past several years were about the very thing that he is expected to announce within a matter of days,” reported The New York Times. “[T]he questions actually specifically addressed the sorts of actions that he is contemplating now,” The Washington Post’s Fact Checker agreed, awarding President Obama the rare “Upside-Down Pinocchio,” which signifies “a major-league flip-flop.” Even FactCheck.org piled on.
Obama’s argument that his “position hasn’t changed” and that “when I was talking to the advocates, their interest was in me, through executive action, duplicating the legislation that was stalled in Congress,” falls far short of explaining away his statement about a lack of authority. Not to mention, regardless of whether legislation is stalled in Congress, the President still doesn’t have the authority to rewrite or issue an executive order mirroring pending legislation.
Yesterday ABC’s Jon Karl asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest if President Obama still doesn’t view himself as the “emperor” of the United States as he refuses to work with Congress on illegal immigration reform. From MRC:
“Does the President still stand by what he said last year when he said, ‘I am not the emperor of the United States; my job is to execute laws that are passed.’ Is that still operative?” asked Jonathan Karl, reporter for ABC, during Tuesday’s White House press briefing.
“Absolutely,” replied White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
“Not a king either?” asked Karl, to audience chuckles.
“That’s right,” said Earnest flatly.
There are a few explanations for President Obama moving forward to change illegal immigration law despite his own statements and objections from Congress and even liberal attorneys like Jonathan Turley. The first is that the President is an ideologue with nothing to lose politically at this point. Obama isn’t up for re-election, he only has two years left and Democrats just lost in huge numbers at every level of government across the country. There’s no longer anything to save. Obama is interested in his legacy with the Left, not with the country as a whole. Second, the President is interested in fighting with Republicans, not working with them, and his latest move on illegal immigration proves it. The President is essentially daring Republicans to look at ways to address executive action and is hoping to get impeachment on the table in order to suck up all of the media oxygen and hysteria for the remainder of his term. Further, Obama knows if Republicans choose to address his executive action through the courts, he’ll be out of office before the legal fight is over. Obama doesn’t have much, if anything to lose and has made it clear he doesn’t care much about the constitutionality of what he’s about to do, despite claiming his coming action doesn’t fall within his constitutional authority over the past six years.
Conn has your rundown on what Republicans will do after Obama goes through with executive action on Friday.