Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Opinion
Megan McArdle

Mr. President, You Can't Do Whatever You Want

Whatever your opinion on immigration policy, I hope it doesn’t involve supporting giving the president extremely broad powers to simply rewrite any law that he thinks ought to be different. 
Fixing our immigration system is important, but so is keeping the executive branch in check.
Fixing our immigration system is important, but so is keeping the executive branch in check.

On Sunday, Ross Douthat of the New York Times wrote an uncharacteristically blistering attack on the plan being floated by the Barack Obama administration to quasi-legalize the status of almost half the immigrants who are now in the country illegally. The details remain somewhat vague, but according to the Washington Post, "Ideas under consideration could include temporary relief for law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are closely related to U.S. citizens or those who have lived in the country a certain number of years -- a population that advocates say could reach as high as 5 million."

This is not the first time that the administration has floated this trial balloon, so I think it's safe to say that it is contemplating sweeping unilateral executive action that would grant millions of undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and issue work permits that would allow them to earn a legal living while they are here -- at least, unless the news media or the public pushes back.