Editorial: Laxalt right to join in lawsuit over Obama executive order on immigration

The primary thrust of Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s decision to join 25 other states in suing over the president’s executive orders blocking deportation of millions of illegal immigrants is strictly about the rule of law and the limited powers granted by the Constitution.

The lawsuit spearheaded by the state of Texas and filed in federal court in Brownsville states clearly in its second paragraph: “This lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law, presidential power, and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution.”

In his press release announcing the state’s joining the list of plaintiffs, Laxalt also stated: “Our immigration system is broken and clearly needs to be fixed. But just as clearly, the solution is not for the president to act unilaterally disregarding the U.S. Constitution and laws. The solution must be a permanent, legal result that includes, not ignores, the other branches of government and their constitutional roles. Anything less is a false hope undermining the rule of law that injures millions of people in America, including many in Nevada.”

Nevada joined the suit the day after federal Judge Andrew Hanen heard arguments in the case. Judge Hanen repeatedly pressed the Justice Department attorney to explain by what legal authority President Obama could take such action.

Hanen is the judge who two years ago basically accused the Department of Homeland Security of aiding and abetting child smuggling when it stopped a smuggler bringing a 10-year-old El Salvadoran girl into the U.S., but then delivered the girl to her mother who had paid $8,500 to the smuggler.

The judge noted that the DHS failed to arrest the mother for instigating the conspiracy to violate our border security laws, but instead delivered the child to her — “thus successfully completing the mission of the criminal conspiracy. It did not arrest her. It did not prosecute her. It did not even initiate deportation proceedings for her. The DHS policy is a dangerous course of action. …”

The federal lawsuit joined by Laxalt points out that the DREAM Act that would have allowed children brought into this country illegally to stay was introduced in March 2009. After that Obama said on at least eight occasions he could not himself impose such amnesty.

“I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself. …” he said. “I can’t just make the laws up by myself.”

In June 2012, Obama did just that, announcing the sweeping Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), even though his own Justice Department advised that immigration officials should be required “to evaluate each application for deferred action on a case-by-case basis, rather than granting deferred action automatically to all applicants …”

The acceptance rate for DACA applicants is more than 99.5 percent. Sounds automatic.
After that there was a clamor to not break up families and let the parents of those children remain in this country, too. To which Obama said on at least nine occasions, according to the lawsuit, that he did not have that power: “I’m not a king. I am the head of the executive branch of government. I’m required to follow the law.”

In November, Obama unilaterally waived deportations for the parents, candidly admitting, “I just took an action to change the law,” even though his own Justice Department advised “the proposed deferred action program for parents of DACA recipients would not be permissible.”

The lawsuit also points out the president’s action is costly to the states, because they are the ones who must pay for the health care, education and law enforcement related to those immigrants who have been given an incentive to come here and now accommodated to stay here.

Though the president has argued his actions amount to prosecutorial discretion, the suit notes he went far beyond that discretion, allowing them to be employed and benefit from Social Security and Medicaid.
All of these actions are the purview of Congress. The president is required by the Constitution to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

We applaud the attorney general in joining in this quest to restore the rule of law.

A version of this editorial appears this week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record.

Branco cartoon

‘Felons, not families’ line rings false

Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable -– especially those who may be dangerous. That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day. — President Obama, Nov. 20 televised speech

Accordingly, I am directing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to discontinue Secure Communities. ICE should put in its place a program that will continue to rely on fingerprint-based biometric data submitted during bookings by state and local law enforcement agencies to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for criminal background checks. However, ICE should only seek the transfer of an alien in the custody of state or local law enforcement through the new program when the alien has been convicted of an offense listed in Priority 1 (a), (c), (d), and (e) and Priority 2 (a) and (b) of the November 20, 2014 Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum, or when, in the judgment of an ICE Field Office Director, the alien otherwise poses a danger to national security. In other words, unless the alien poses a demonstrable risk to national security, enforcement actions through the new program will only be taken against aliens who are convicted of specifically enumerated crimes. — Secretary of Homeland Defense, Jeh Johnson, Nov. 20 memo.

But apparently even a conviction isn’t good enough already.

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) obtained a document from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) showing that in fiscal year 2013 the agency set free in this country 36,007 convicted criminal aliens — with a total of 88,000 criminal convictions — who were awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings.

Under the Obama administration a person in the country illegally and suspected of a heinous crime may not be deported until the state and local community go to the expense of convicting that person and probably providing free attorneys to boot.

CIS reports that in fiscal year 2014 ICE statistics found the number of criminal aliens deported declined 39 percent in the past three years and nearly 167,000 convicted criminals released by ICE are currently at large in the U.S.

Investor’s Business Daily cites stats from the Congressional Research Service that show more than 26,000 illegals already released by the Obama administration have since release committed 58,000 new crimes — inlcuding 59 murders, 21 attempted murders and more than 5,000 major or violent criminal offenses.

According to a Las Vegas newspaper account from April, under Secure Communities there have been more than 3,000 deportations from Clark County, 888 of those were convicted of crimes as murder, rape and drug trafficking.

CIS notes:

Finally, the president described his program to the public as “going after felons, not families.” What he fails to mention is that, while he will go after illegal aliens who are “suspected” of terrorism and espionage, illegal aliens charged with rape, murder, burglary, and child molestation will be not be detained or expelled unless and until they are “convicted.” In other words, if an illegal alien has been booked and jailed by local police, but has not yet been tried and convicted, ICE is not permitted to detain the alien no matter how heinous the crime and no matter how much evidence of his guilt is presented to them. Most Americans would be shocked to learn that the federal government refuses to detain and expel tens of thousands of potentially dangerous aliens, who are not supposed to be in the country to begin with, who are already under arrest, and whom the local police are eager to have removed from their communities.

Even if an illegal is convicted, reports IBD, ICE must now consider “extenuating circumstances” — such as the criminal’s “family or community ties in the United States” and “humanitarian factors such as poor health, age, pregnancy, a young child or a seriously ill relative.”

Obama at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas announcing his executive fiat on immigration.

Immigration reform would grow the economy, Obama says, but for whom?

You’ve heard the old saw: A recession is when your neighbor is unemployed. A depression is when you are.

In a recent speech, Obama said the Senate immigration reform bill would grow the economy 5 percent over the next 20 years, or by $1.4 trillion, and cut the deficit by $850 billion.

Obama said:

“Immigration reform would make it easier for highly-skilled immigrants and those who study at our colleges and universities to start businesses and create jobs right here in America. Foreign companies would be more likely to invest here. The demand for goods and services would go up – creating more jobs for American workers.”

How are things working out right now? According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics household survey, in June the unemployment rate for native born Americans was 8.1 percent. For foreign born, making no distinction for legal or illegal residency that I could find, the unemployment rate was 6.5 percent.

The Center for Immigration Studies looked at job stats for the years 2000 to 2013 and found “all of the net gain in employment over the last 13 years has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal).”

Key findings:

Between the first quarter of 2000 and the first quarter of 2013, the native-born population accounted for two-thirds of overall growth in the working-age population (16 to 65), but none of the net growth in employment among the working-age has gone to natives.

The overall size of the working-age native-born population increased by 16.4 million from 2000 to 2013, yet the number of natives actually holding a job was 1.3 million lower in 2013 than 2000.

The total number of working-age immigrants (legal and illegal) increased 8.8 million and the number working rose 5.3 million between 2000 and 2013.

Even before the recession, when the economy was expanding (2000 to 2007), 60 percent of the net increase in employment among the working-age went to immigrants, even though they accounted for just 38 percent of population growth among the working-age population.

Where the jobs have gone.

Where the jobs have gone.

Harry is in a hurry to do what Harry wants to do, other bills can wait forever

Harry Reid still can’t utter two sentences without bashing Republicans. He doesn’t seem to understand how to win friends and influence people.

Gary Varvel cartoon

He keeps pushing the so-called immigration reform bill and wants to pass it by the Fourth of July, but he calls an amendment to require border security first a poison pill. Has anyone actually read the 2,000-page (including hundreds of pages consisting entirely of strikethroughs) bill? Try deciphering the point system for a pathway to citizenship. I guess we have to pass the bill to understand what is in it.

If Harry is in such a hurry for a vote, will he allow a Senate vote on the House-passed bill to defund Obama’s executive fiat imposition of the DREAM Act?

The last time the U.S. gave amnesty there were only 3 million illegals affected. This time it is 11 million. What will it be next time?

Harry had a different viewpoint 20 years ago:

Immigration reform: It is not about reforming the law, but conforming to reality

Everybody is talking about immigration reform. There was a front page story in the Las Vegas newspaper today about Obama flying in and giving a speech about it, before flying right back to Washington. (Nine hours on an airplane for a 25-minute speech?) Columnists John L. Smith and Steve Sebelius wrote about it. There was an editorial on the topic yesterday.

One of the president’s big applause lines was:

“We have to make sure that every business and every worker in America is playing by the same set of rules. We have to bring this shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable — businesses for who they hire, and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law.  That’s common sense. And that’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform.”

But let’s be perfectly honest, immigration reform isn’t about reforming a broken system of laws, it is about making a system of laws conform to reality. And that reality is that the current laws on the books are not being enforced. Congress can pass a ream of new laws and those will not be enforced.

The huge bureaucracy it would take to make sure “everybody is held accountable” is unaffordable, unwieldy and simply unworkable. Won’t happen.

Another applause line was:

“So that means it won’t be a quick process but it will be a fair process.  And it will lift these individuals out of the shadows and give them a chance to earn their way to a green card and eventually to citizenship.”

There is a path to citizenship now. It is arduous and time consuming, but people do it and you see photos of mass citizenship swearing in ceremonies in the newspapers all the time.

So let’s not pretend anything is going to change. It is just a surrender to reality that there are about 11 million people living illegally in the country and no one has any intention of enforcing existing law or future laws.

The whole debate ends up in a jumble self-contradiction, like the Review-Journal editorial yesterday that concluded: “Congress should give illegal immigrants who have made America their home the means to remain here legally, without cheapening citizenship by giving it away.” This charitable concession comes right after pointing out that the Reagan-era amnesty program “made those problems worse by incentivizing illegal immigration.”

It is all just Kabuki. We might as well cut to the chase and give everyone Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, free health insurance and voter registration — as Democrats, of course.

Las Vegas newspaper caves in to the politically correct crowd and uses ‘undocumented’ instead of ‘illegal’

After seeing those double-barrel op-eds in the Las Vegas Review-Journal a couple of weeks ago by Fatma Marouf and Patricia Vázquez, saying the use of the term “illegal” was dehumanizing and inaccurate, I knew it was merely a matter of time before the paper’s current management would bend under pressure and change how it labels those in the country illegally.

Jump page for story that accedes to demands to use the term ‘undocumented’ for illegal immigrants.

As editor of the paper for more than two decades, I resisted the constant pleas from the politically correct types to drop the Associated Press style “illegal immigrant” in favor of “undocumented” immigrant or worker. The latter term is simply imprecise and misleading, suggesting misplaced paperwork instead of willful defiance of the country’s immigration law.

Today the PC crowd won. In Laura Myers’ story on the attorney general speaking at La Raza here, she twice uses the term illegal immigrants but also uses the terms “undocumented” immigrants, “disenfranchised” immigrants, “young” immigrants and just plain immigrants.

On the other hand, Glenn Cook’s column uses the term “illegal immigrant” and Charles Krauthammer uses the AP frowned-upon term “illegal alien.” So, there doesn’t appear to be a blanket ban, yet.

For years the AP Stylebook has stated: “illegal immigrant Used to describe those who have entered the country illegally, it is the preferred term, rather than illegal alien or undocumented worker. Do not use the shortened term illegals.”

Late this past year the AP weakened but did not knuckle under entriely by adding this language: “Acceptable variations include living in the country without legal permission. Use of these terms, as with any terms implying illegalities, must be based on reliable information about a person’s true status.”

In her op-ed in the R-J, Marouf argued, “Calling these individuals ‘illegal’ before an immigration judge has had the opportunity to examine their cases is like calling someone charged with a crime a ‘criminal’ before the outcome of the trial.”

A certain blogger I know blew major holes in that bogus argument with this rather amusing hypothetical:

Imagine that an FBI agent appears before Congress to report on an increase in bank robberies and some suggested changes to more easily apprehend the culprits.

“Last year we had to deal with 6,000 bank robberies in America,” the agent begins. “The bank robbers typically …

“Wait,” a congresscritter interrupts him. “Our country has a principle of respecting the presumption of innocence as a fundamental right. I cannot allow you to carelessly wield the word ‘bank robber,’ effectively passing sentence on the person before a judge has done so. After all, some of these people may have just gotten confused, tried to withdraw money in excess of their current account balance. So please let’s not demonize this entire class of people. Instead, in your testimony, I’d like you to refer only to ‘persons who withdrew cash from our banks in a context in which their account balance sufficiency was unknown or unclear.’ Could you do that for me, please, Agent Jones?”

Would this facilitate a clear and coherent discussion of possible means of reversing a growth in bank robberies? Of course not. Such a nonsense formulation could be designed only to CRIPPLE such a discussion.

If you think that one is ludicrous, just read this blogger’s depiction of Agent Jones trying to testify about pedophiles … or “youth romance mentors.”

This blogger recognizes the Orwellian concept: He who controls the language controls the debate.

By the by, gentle reader, both Cook and Krauthammer do an excellent job of following up on a previous posting here about the Imperial President issuing edicts instead of following the law.

Krauthammer is shocked into the use of an exclamation point:

Consider this breathtaking cascade: An administration violates its constitutional duty to execute the law by deliberately refusing to enforce it. It then characterizes its non-enforcement as simply establishing priorities. It then tries to strike down a state law on immigration on the grounds that it contradicts federal law — by actually trying to enforce it!

Cook then reveals what Obama did after the Supreme Court upheld a major portion of Arizona’s immigration law:

He announced federal authorities would not respond to calls to verify the immigration status of anyone detained by Arizona police — in violation of federal law — unless they’re violent offenders, fugitives or people who’ve been deported previously. Obama then terminated every 287(g) partnership in the state. The agreements allow local police to verify the immigration status of suspects in custody. Those 287(g) partnerships remain in force in more than 30 other states, including Nevada.

Talk about arbitrary and extralegal. Or are we allowed to talk about that? It might offend someone to use accurate and precise language.