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Executive action on immigration sets dangerous precendent

In 1983, both of my parents came from Colombia to the United States on student visas to pursue graduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Over the course of the years, they were granted legal residency and eventually became naturalized U.S. citizens. But it wasn’t always easy. My mother had to go back to Colombia for over a year after she finished her Ph.D., since the student visa no longer applied. I am infinitely thankful to both my parents for having come to the greatest country on Earth, studying and working hard, obeying the laws and then having me here. Like millions of others, my parents followed immigration laws and processes, no matter how complicated and burdensome they might be, and were able to live out the American Dream. Unfortunately, unlike my parents, there are also millions of other immigrants who came here illegally and continue to remain here today. Fortunately, unlike many other countries around the world, America is a nation of laws — and the law must be upheld, with no one being above it. The millions of immigrants who broke the law to come to the United States must never be rewarded for their illegal actions, and although it sounds harsh, they should be punished. Granting amnesty is an insult to the rule of law and to the millions that followed it.

Another essence of lawlessness is taking place in our country, and it comes from President Barack Obama himself. I do not consider myself to be an alarmist or sensationalist. Unlike some other elements of the conservative movement, I do not think our president is a socialist, that he wasn’t born in the U.S. or that his health care law has brought the end of freedom to our country. As a conservative, however, I am deeply troubled by the president’s intent to use unilateral executive action to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, in direct defiance of Congress. The Constitution grants Congress the power to enact rules of naturalization, not the president. The president is supposed to faithfully execute the law, and President Obama’s proposed executive action on immigration is in essence his own law, not a law passed by the people’s representatives in Congress.

Just this past summer, the Supreme Court, in “National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning,” declared it was unconstitutional for President Obama to appoint members of the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was still in session and that the President could not make his own judgments of whether the Senate is in session. One would think a check on the President’s unilateral power from our nation’s highest court of law would give pause to President Obama when it comes to acting on his own. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.

Although I personally am against granting any form of amnesty whatsoever to illegal immigrants, I realize my views and policy preferences are not what decide the law — Congress does. If Congress debated and passed some sort of immigration reform, just as it has done on countless other controversial issues, this would be the only lawful and legitimate way to address the illegal immigration crisis. After Congress passed some sort of law, only then would President Obama have some deference in using executive actions in order to execute immigration law. Although such a law might be unpopular by my standards and many others’, it would still have to be upheld as the law of the land. I would be just as against a Republican president disregarding and failing to enforce immigration laws passed by Congress, as I am against President Obama disregarding Congress and enforcing his own distorted version of the “law.” Again, I am not the one to make wild accusations of our president being a “dictator” as many others do — he is not. However, I think the proposed executive action on immigration is a step onto a slippery slope that some day in the future might actually lead to some form of dictator who makes his own laws without them being debated and decided on by Congress. This sets a dangerous precedent that might prove hard to turn back from later on.

Sergio Rojas is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history and journalism and media studies. He is the chairman of Rutgers College Republicans. His column, “Common Sense Conservative,” runs on alternate Tuesdays.


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