This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
Take politics out of the equation, and Barack Obama’s decision to unilaterally protect young illegal immigrants gets hard to explain.
The president had three-and-a-half years to contemplate whether he had the power to do what he did Friday. As a fervent supporter of the DREAM Act – which would have gone even further – he clearly would have liked to.
Obama aside, it’s hard to understand why anyone wouldn’t sympathize with law-abiding youths and young adults who were smuggled across the border as children. Most of them have grown up thinking of the United States as home; many would be bewildered if they were dumped back in the countries they were uprooted from.
They are here through no choice of their own, and simple humanity argues for keeping them here if they have obeyed the law, stayed in school or served in the military.
But Obama himself has said that he couldn’t simply snap his fingers and nullify immigration law, even a bad one.
“I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own,” he told the National Council of La Raza a year ago. “That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.”
Yet now – four-and-a-half months from November, with the Hispanic turnout crucial to his re-election – Obama has discovered he can indeed bypass Congress and effectively repeal a law on his own through a broad public proclamation of prosecutorial discretion.
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