OK, if deporting immigrants is really a matter of principle …

Immigration Flying HomeHouse Speaker John Boehner is once again talking up a lawsuit against the Obama administration for declining to arrest and deport illegal immigrants who were brought here as children and those who have significant family ties to U.S. citizens.

The Obama administration believes that prosecutorial discretion — the right of the executive branch to decide which cases to pursue, and which not to pursue — gives it the necessary authority. House and Senate Republicans vehemently disagree.
Under a House resolution passed last year, the House was empowered to file civil suit against “the President, or any other officer or employee of the United States, (who) establishes or implements a formal or informal policy to refrain from enforcing any provision of federal law in violation of the requirement that the President ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed’.”

That’s pretty clear, as is the principle behind it:  When there is a clear violation of federal law, the president is required by the Constitution to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” and prosecute that violation, regardless of whether he finds it popular or convenient.

Principles can be dangerous things, however. If you’re going to take a stand on principle, you must take that stand regardless of circumstance or situation. That’s the whole idea of a principle. And under the principles as outlined by the House, President Obama is equally required to prosecute President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and whole lot of people at the CIA for torture and conspiracy to torture.

True, as a political matter, some people still choose to quibble about whether U.S. officials engaged in torture. However, as torture is defined in federal law, there is no doubt whatsoever that we have tortured people. That law defines torture as an act “specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering … upon another person within his custody or physical control,” and there is no serious question about whether such acts occurred. (There’s also no “escape clause” in the law about “except in certain circumstances”.)

The law is just as clear that “a person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties” as a person who actually conducted the torture. In other words, if you helped to plan, approve or otherwise assist in torture, you are guilty of torture, punishable by 20 years in prison, life in prison or even death, depending on its scale.

That’s the law, plain and simple. If you want to argue that violations of the law must always be prosecuted, then illegal immigrants should be deported and President Bush and a good chunk of his Cabinet should be prosecuted. If you want to argue that illegal immigrants should be deported and President Bush should NOT be prosecuted, then you’re not standing on principle. You are picking and choosing which laws to enforce and engaging in allegedly unconstitutional “prosecutorial discretion.”

I’ve long made it clear that I don’t believe that torture prosecution is justified. The political turmoil would be too great, and I don’t believe it would produce justice. Yes, the law against torture was broken, repeatedly and on a large and organized scale. But we, the people of the United States, all knew it was being broken at the time and we, the people of the United States, tacitly agreed to it. The guilt is a collective guilt that should not be sloughed off onto scapegoats by going back and pretending that tacit acceptance never occurred.

But again, there’s a strong parallel with the immigration argument. For close to two decades, under Republican as well as Democratic administrations, we looked the other way while the immigration laws weren’t enforced because politically powerful interests wanted the cheap labor those immigrants provided. Despite what the law clearly said, we tacitly agreed to look the other way while that law was broken.

Sure, some protested against that lax enforcement, just as some of us protested lax enforcement of the laws against torture. But in neither case did those protests make much headway. And as with the torture case, it would be unjust to now insist on a literal reading of the law and root out millions of people whom we all but invited here, back when we thought their presence here suited our purposes.

If you disagree with that conclusion, fine. Just don’t go hiding that disagreement behind a “principle” unless you are really, honestly prepared to honor that principle in all cases and live with its repercussions. I suspect most are not.

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815 comments
Squirrel_Whisperer
Squirrel_Whisperer

It would have made more sense for BHO to have dealt with the immigration issue during the first two years of his presidency (as he promised in his campaign) while he had a Democrat majority Congress.

EdUktr
EdUktr

Obama's executive overreach on immigration completely disregards Congress' constitutional powers over immigration policy. I urge our Senators to defend the separation of powers and use Congress' power of the purse to defund Obama's executive actions on immigration. Please vote YES on the House-passed DHS funding bill when it comes to the Senate floor.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@fiftythreepercenter 

What value are a few dollars here or there to the poor when you defend an oppressive economic order that is creating and spreading poverty on a vast scale? 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Linked on that same page AAS provided, for his anti-Executive-discretion piece and posting without further comment:


If, under the Constitution, the president must enforce much of the law but need not enforce all of it, where should the line be drawn? It might be surprising that after two centuries of constitutional experience, we don’t know the answer. Probably the reason is that most of the time, the president’s nonenforcement decisions are not controversial. Every day, an executive branch official decides to drop an investigation, or not to prosecute a case, because resources are scarce and the harm caused by a particular legal violation does not seem serious. We don’t object because that’s a sensible thing to do.

And the sensible thing to do in the area of immigration law is to bring removal proceedings against the most serious violators — typically, criminals — while leaving otherwise law-abiding noncitizens alone. Given that Congress has not appropriated nearly enough money to deport 10 million or more people, this type of priority-setting is unavoidable, and not merely wise. Indeed, the president is just following in the footsteps of his predecessors, who also focused removal efforts on dangerous aliens. Congress has acquiesced in this practice for years. The president’s discretion over immigration is deeply interwoven in our law. As the Supreme Court recognized just two years ago, in the course of summarizing the statutory scheme: “A principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials.”

JamVet
JamVet

Rather, it is designed to shine a light on a book that has been abused by people who claim to revere it but don’t read it, in the process creating misery for others. When the illiteracy of self-proclaimed Biblical literalists leads parents to banish children from their homes, when it sets neighbor against neighbor, when it engenders hate and condemnation, when it impedes science and undermines intellectual advancement, the topic has become too important for Americans to ignore, whether they are deeply devout or tepidly faithful, believers or atheists.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

"But if you're making contributions to your church and patting yourself on the back for its charitable work, you must realize that only a small percentage of offerings actually wind up there. "


That's what is so different and so refreshing about this campaign.  The church provides the administration from the church's budget, but 100% of the money given goes back out the door.  They don't keep a dime or charge the campaign for admin.  


100%


straker
straker

53% - "spew outright hatred"


Criticism of narrow-minded fundamentalist Christianity is not the same as spewing "outright hatred".

breckenridge
breckenridge

re: Off topic 


I posted this the other night, but thought I'd post it again since I find it so hysterically funny.......

When Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk went to Washington last week, they left Georgia with the adulation of tea party activists who had voted to elect them as the new representatives for the 10th and 11th Congressional Districts. Hice and Loudermilk discovered quickly that those good feelings don’t last long.

On their first official day as members of Congress, the duo angered many of their constituents and provoked the folks back home into seeking opposition for them when they run again in two years. What did they do that was so awful? They voted with a majority of their Republican colleagues to re-elect John Boehner, a veteran congressman from Ohio with a peculiar orange complexion, as the speaker of the House.

Judging from the reaction in Georgia, you would have thought that Hice and Loudermilk had been caught stealing from the collection plate in church. The same tea partiers who had been so happy to elect them were now calling for them to be ousted before they had even been in office for 24 hours. That might be an all-time speed record for ideological backlash.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

Why can't any immigrant with a job get an H1b visa ?

straker
straker

AyeAye - "is a clear violation of our Constitution"


If Obama were actually guilty of that, the Republican dominated Congress would  be falling all over themselves in a rush to impeachment.


They are not.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@straker 

This mystifies me somewhat, as well. 

If they actually believe that the Constitution is being violated, it is their duty to bring articles of impeachment (or to encourage their Representatives to do so).  Failure to do this is failing their duty as Americans, and the rankest form of cowardice.  IMO.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@fiftythreepercenter @straker 

Who cares? Is that an excuse for allowing the US Constitution to be violated? 

That's a terrible excuse for abandoning one's principles.  Utter cowardice.

IMO

"If I don't think I'm gonna win, I quit."  I'm glad our forefathers didn't feel that way, or there would be no America.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

"I don't know who you think you're knocking here, but the people who post here and who ID as "liberal" also sometimes are churchgoers,"


Very few of the ones who post here have claimed church attendance (I have asked...) and most of them spew outright hatred toward those who do.  If you haven't noticed that, you're either new here or just aren't paying attention. 

JamVet
JamVet

@fiftythreepercenter @Nick_Danger 

Are you proffering that you go to church 52 weeks a year?

42?

22?

2?

Regardless, something is not working.

On this forum, day in day out, post after post, your heart is as merciless and indifferent as Christ's was compassionate.

That is a fact and it is irrefutable....

josef
josef

DOGGONE

What did I miss?  

AyeAyeSir
AyeAyeSir

"OK, if deporting immigrants is really a matter of principle …"  (NICE TRY JAY)


NYT Editorial:  "Allowing Some Illegal Immigrants to Stay Abuses Prosecutorial Discretion"


"While several presidents — both Republican and Democrat — have used prosecutorial discretion to temporarily delay deportation in the face of wars (Nicaragua, Kuwait), hurricanes or earthquakes (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras) and other discrete natural and political catastrophes, no other president has claimed the constitutional authority to ignore immigration law because he believes it's unfair as a matter of permanent national policy."


http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/11/18/constitutional-limits-of-presidential-action-on-immigration-12/allowing-some-illegal-immigrants-to-stay-abuses-prosecutorial-discretion


Apples and oranges Jay.  Prosecutorial discretion should always be on a case by case basis and not an invalidation of an entire law ............... unless you like the idea of a king.


If you want prosecution of individuals for torture go right ahead ........... prosecutors will decide on a CASE BY CASE basis and then the judicial system will confirm or not confirm that.


Negating an entire portion of law passed by the U.S. Congress, signed by a former president and upheld by the Supreme Court is a clear violation of our Constitution.




Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@AyeAyeSir


From the legal authority of this Times piece being quoted you might also check out this work:


In The Tea Party: Three Principles, Elizabeth Price Foley asserts that the mainstream media's characterization of the American Tea Party movement is distorted. Foley sees the decentralized, wide-ranging group as a movement bound by allegiance to three "core principles" of American constitutional law: limited government, unapologetic U.S. sovereignty, and constitutional originalism. She explains how these principles predict the Tea Party's impact on the American political landscape, connecting them to current issues, such as health care reform, illegal immigration, the war on terror, and internationalism.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

Does the H1b visa program allow US Corporations to rob other countries

of the product of their education programs ?

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

Apples and Oranges....again.  There is a huge difference in selective prosecution and no prosecution.  A prosecutor can evaluate extenuating circumstances and chose not to prosecute.  He cannot however just ignore that law all together because he doesn't agree.  That'd be like me just not paying my taxes because I don't agree with the tax rate".  Yeah..That'll work.  Obama can selectively not prosecute former gov't officials for torture; he cannot just ignore the torture law.   I'm sure Jay knows the difference too and is just publishing talking points he received on his morning "cover for Obama" fax this morning.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnBuck2

He cannot however just ignore that law all together because he doesn't agree. 

The law "all together" is not being "just ignored" here.

AyeAyeSir
AyeAyeSir

@JohnBuck2 


THANK YOU !!!


P.S.  He knows the difference .......... he's just pandering to some of his fellow liberals on here.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnBuck2

"cover for Obama" fax this morning.

I think the DNC uses cutting-edge pigeon messaging nowadays.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@AyeAyeSir @Visual_Cortex @JohnBuck2

Is this especially different than (say) a police chief stating publicly that his officers are not going to ticket people traveling at less than 15 mph over a posted limit along a stretch of road due to enforceability issues?

And now that I think of it, in my example, I'd say "case by case" is a recipe for unequal treatment under the law.

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

Oil below $43bbl.  This is getting weird...

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

@LordHelpUs Cudos to Obama for this.  It's a brilliant way to combat both Russia and ISIS.  

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

@JohnBuck2 @LordHelpUs IMO, Saudi's and other OPEC nations want to shut down frackers.  Break even for oil extraction by fracking is around $55-$60bbl...pumping the old fashioned way is literally a few dollars per barrel.

straker
straker

Doggone - "other opinions about what the Bible says"


I assure you that its only THEIR beliefs that matter to them.


They KNOW they are right and if you disagree in the slightest, your're totally wrong, in their eyes.


The Taliban mentality is not limited to Islam.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Straker you ain't going to heaven if you ain't done been saved.


ROFLOL!!! ROFLOL!!! ROFLOL!!!!

straker
straker

53% - "the church of the modern liberal"


I'd say you're pretty clueless as to what liberal churches in the Atlanta area are doing for the poor.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@straker

There seems to be a broad denial among some right leaners here that liberal churches even exist.

I'll add--given the incredibly broad term given to the word "liberal" in here, I have to think that any church that's ok with the concept of biological evolution must be "liberal."

JamVet
JamVet

@JohnBuck2 @Visual_Cortex @straker 

Do you got to 47%er's church?

He is the CHAMPION of what you describe!

Too bad one of you hate-filled Christians never wrote that Marvin Gaye song and made the lyric, "For only hate can conquer love"...

JamVet
JamVet

@straker 

That is because liberal churches are merely promoting the policies of the Democratic plantation...


fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

And Visual, if you care to do the research, try calling the charities who have received money from this campaign.  There is a partial list of where the money goes here. http://howtoberich.org/impact/


The cool thing about this is the church figured out they don't need to set up a soup kitchen, a night shelter, etc.  Those things are already set up.  They just need funding to exist, to expand, etc. and we can do that and do it quite well.  


BTW, that food drive listed at over 200K lbs of food took more than 5 tractor trailers to move to the food banks it went to.  


Until the church of the modern liberal is willing to put up the same effort for the causes you accuse me and other Christians of not caring about, at least have the decency to stop accusing us of not caring or doing nothing.  It's a complete lie and it's not feeding anybody.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@fiftythreepercenter

Thanks for your reply.

I'll take it as a given that this outfit is on the up and up and manages these funds efficiently for the sake of this discussion. But I must take issue with something you said, to wit:

Until the church of the modern liberal is willing to put up the same effort for the causes you accuse me and other Christians of not caring about

I don't know who you think you're knocking here, but the people who post here and who ID as "liberal" also sometimes are churchgoers, and if they're not, they may very well contribute directly to such charities. Why would you assume they don't?

By the way, my own church has done some work with at least a couple of the outfits listed in your link; I've personally done some work on Homestretch projects, myself.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@fiftythreepercenter

And one other thing--you still haven't faced up to my larger point, which is that it is fine for your church, my church, anyone's church to provide resources and sometimes labor for worthy charities.

But if you're making contributions to your church and patting yourself on the back for its charitable work, you must realize that only a small percentage of offerings actually wind up there. It's not anything I am criticizing, just illuminating, here.

Most of the offerings go to operations; no church could manage to function if it didn't, I don't think.