As the battle over immigration will undoubtedly rage on for months following President Obama’s decision to do what he can to address an issue Republicans seem disinterested in fixing, a major Democratic ally has emerged and come out in support of the president – Bill Clinton.
Not only has the former president come out in support of Obama’s actions on immigration, but he completely debunked the right-wing propaganda that the president’s actions are those of a “lawless dictator shredding our Constitution.”
On Wednesday, Clinton said, “As far as I can tell, every president in the modern era has issued some executive action on immigration. So I imagine he’ll be on pretty firm legal ground.”
First, let’s go ahead and debunk the myth that amnesty is some radical leftist idea by pointing out that in 1986, “conservative icon” Ronald Reagan passed practically the same immigration bill President Obama wants Congress to pass now.
And while that wasn’t done via executive order (amazing what a president can get done when a Congress is willing to work with him, isn’t it?), he did issue an executive order in 1987 on immigration, ending the deportation of minor children who didn’t fall under the guidelines of the 1986 immigration bill he signed. In other words, Reagan used executive orders to grant amnesty to illegal immigrations.
And George W. Bush, after Congress failed to give him the immigration bill he wanted in 2007, also used the power of the executive order.
In fact, he said at the time, “Although the Congress has not addressed our broken immigration system by passing comprehensive reform legislation, my administration will continue to take every possible step to build upon the progress already made.”
The truth is Clinton is exactly right. President Obama is on sound legal ground because practically every other president before him has taken executive action on immigration when Congress refused to do anything.
What Republicans are counting on, and sadly it’s a fairly safe bet, is the short-term memory of the American people. They want to push this idea that Obama’s actions are those of an unconstitutional dictator who wants to abuse his power. But what you won’t hear many Republicans talk about – and you sure as hell won’t see Fox News cover – is that we had comprehensive immigration reform passed in this country almost a year and a half ago. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill 68-32 that the president said he would sign, except John Boehner wouldn’t let the House even vote on it.
All President Obama is doing is using his power to get as much of that bipartisan bill enacted as he possibly can. House Republicans have had well over a year to get something done on immigration and they’ve done absolutely nothing.
And now they’re throwing a hissy fit because they know Obama has the power to act without them.