Vail Valley Voices: What the Constitution says
Vail, CO, Colorado
The Constitution of the United States defines the three equal divisions of our government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial, and gives the duties of each. It is explicit about the powers and limitations of each and about the consequences for not performing their individual duties.
The legislative branch passes the laws in the House of Representatives and the Senate. If the law is passed by both houses, the president can either sign the act into law or veto it. If a bill is not passed by the two houses, it has been denied, and is not a law. The president is obligated to honor that decision, whether he agrees with it or not. The president has a duty, among others, to enforce the laws passed and respect those denied by the legislative branch.
The president) “shall take Care that the laws be faithfully executed …” (Article II, Section 3). Section 4 describes the consequences of the impeachment process for not enforcing the laws of the land.
The president of the United State takes the following oath of office, given by the chief justice of the Supreme Court at his inauguration: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” (Article II, Section 1)
The limits of the president are further outlined in Section 2, which says he can make all appointments, with the advice and consent of the Senate, including ambassadors, public ministers, Supreme Court justices, and all officers. The Senate must approve any modification of this rule.
Why the Constitutional history lesson? Because, once before there was a president who attempted to bypass the rules of the Constitution. President Andrew Johnson attempted to remove Secretary Seward, the secretary of war, without the approval of the Senate, a clear violation of the Tenure of Office Act. The House impeached the president, and the Senate, by only one vote, spared Johnson the indignity.
President Obama has appointed czars without the Senate’s approval. He also made an executive order to change the rules about deporting immigration violators to those who have violated the law. Both are direct violations of the Constitution.
He has refused to enforce existing immigration laws and to protect the country’s borders, and has ignored congressional action on the other. His order is an obvious defiant act of congressional refusal to pass the Dream Act. (He is apparently attempting to stop his drop in popularity among the Hispanic community.)
The point is that our president is not a king and he has no powers to decree anything. He has therefore violated his oath of office and has violated the laws of the land defined above, among others, passed by Congress or specifically rejected by Congress. That is by a “backdoor amnesty” is the releasing of illegals from deportation while not protecting the country’s borders (The numbers deported bragged by the administration are easily offset by the number of illegal arrivals.)
Here is the irony. The term “illegal immigrant” (or “undocumented immigrant” for the politically correct) is by definition a person who has committed an illegal act by entering this country without permission.
Therefore, Obama’s directive is an attempt to circumvent Congress and free those on the deportation list. It could actually be interpreted to include every illegal alien since all have violated the law (except those born here).
This means that instead Obama could actually have directed ICE to send all illegals back to their country of origin. At this point, the compassion argument usually surfaces. However, when a person knowingly violates a country’s laws he-she chooses to accept the consequences when caught. You can’t have it both ways, Mr. President.
Congress could solve this dilemma by correcting the law of illegal entry from a misdemeanor to a felony.
At any rate, the above acts, plus many others, by this president are intentional violations of his oath of office and his inability to govern or his intentional disrespect for our founding documents, by not enforcing the borders and the spirit of the law. What’s next?
Dick Gustafson is a former Eagle County commissioner.