The Bee’s editorial, “On immigration, judicial activism is apparently fine” (Feb. 19), ignores some important points about this case.
On Feb. 16, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Texas issued an injunction halting President Barack Obama’s executive action to defer deportations of more than 4 million illegal immigrants and authorize work permits and Social Security cards for many.
The order was based on a lawsuit brought by 26 states charging that Obama had exceeded his constitutional powers and that his action would place increased financial and public safety burdens on them. The Obama administration has appealed.
The editorial says that conservatives complain about “activist” judges on rulings they oppose, such as giving gay people the right to marry, but “they don’t seem to mind when that activism skews in their favor.”
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But there is a big difference between creating a “right” that was never in the Constitution and stopping the president from bypassing the Constitution.
In announcing his executive action, Obama said, “I just took action to change the law,” though he had repeatedly said he could not change immigration laws on his own.
Who is the “activist” then? The judge who is trying to protect the Constitution, or the president who is trying to defy it?
The editorial applauds Obama for taking “immigration matters into his own hands” and ignoring Congress. But such an act by any president destroys the balance of powers our founders established between the legislative, executive and judicial branches to protect our freedoms.
If a future president decided to thwart environmental laws, tax laws or abortion laws, would “taking matters into his own hands” be applauded?
Finally, can we lay to rest the old bogeyman that the only other option besides tossing out the nation’s immigration laws is “wholesale deportations” in which we “round up 11 million actual humans”? No one is advocating this. Many simply want common-sense measures to secure the borders first before considering legalization options.
Unless we respect our rule of law, the very lawlessness and abuses of power that so many immigrants are trying to escape will be loosed here.
Margaret A. Bengs is a former political speechwriter and Bee contributing columnist who lives in Carmichael. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.