Democrats eager to put Republican hypocrisy on display for the ill-informed have been busy claiming that Obama is in good company when it comes to amnesty for illegal aliens. According to them, Ronald Reagan did the same thing in 1987 when he signed an executive action allowing for deportation deferrals. This, they claim, is a sign that conservative outrage over Obama’s plans is nothing but a staged political event.
Is there merit to their claims? Are conservatives so dead set against the current president that we attack action that we might have once supported? Perhaps, but not in this case.
While the mainstream media isn’t lying when they point out the actions of Reagan (and Bush in 1989), they are willfully ignoring the major differences between then and now. These presidents were merely filling in gaps in a piece of amnesty legislation passed by Congress in 1986. This legislation, the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, gave permanent legal residency to approximately three million aliens. It was sold to the public as a one-time, “this solves everything” plan, though it turned out to create more problems than it addressed.
Reagan found himself confronted with aspects of the legislation that would literally tear families apart. With some small deportation deferrals, both Reagan and Bush were able to smooth over the roughest edges of congressional law, staying well within the boundaries of the constitution as they did. Part of a president’s sworn responsibilities include seeing that the law of the land is upheld, and that’s exactly what their executive actions did.
Obama, on the other hand, is acting in lieu of Congress. According to the new powers the left has bestowed on the office of the presidency, it is lawful for him to act on his own when Congress fails to do so. Instead of using his executive authority to make sure congressional law can be implemented, he is using it to thwart the law of the land. The last real immigration legislation from Congress was the REAL ID Act, a law passed in 2005 that made it harder for illegals to escape deportation.
But maybe all of that is beside the point. Even if we concede that Reagan and Bush also passed amnesty, does that mean we can’t oppose Obama’s some 25 years later? Can we not draw on the facts of earlier amnesty proclamations to see that they did not help solve the problem of illegal immigration one iota? Are we a monolithic block that somehow believes no Republican president ever made a mistake? Of course not. The wartime heat having died down, I read more criticism of W. from conservative outlets than I do liberal ones. Republican politicians are perhaps the flag-bearers for American conservatism, but they are hardly infallible. Not even the really good ones like Bush Senior. Not even the great ones like Reagan.
To even propose that Obama belongs in the company of those men is laughable, barring the essential fact that he happens to be the president. To fool voters into thinking that his amnesty action is rooted in their precedence is worse than laughable, though; it’s intentionally deceitful. But, as we’ve learned over the last week or so, that’s all part of the Obama M.O.