One of the hallmarks of the Obama administration was signing of those infamous executive orders. On its own, this is not an extraordinary feat. Many presidents in recent years have done it. But when a president signs his name late on a Thursday afternoon; when he knows that no one is paying attention and most of Congress has left their respective offices, that alone implies questionable ethics. But what about if he signs an executive order that is unconstitutional? And by default, unenforceable?
Well, that’s exactly what happened on November 20, 2014, when President Obama signed a series of EO’s on Immigration into law, bypassing Congress. The problem was that part of these actions, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), was unconstitutional. The constitutionality of the EO is based on taking away the rights of Congress, the legislative branch of government, to write a new law. Because this very contention was fought in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in November of 2015, a year after the EO was signed, it brought everything to a screeching halt.
The idea was that conservatives hoped to get a new president who would sign an EO to derail Obama’s. In fact, Donald Trump promised to do that very thing – to sign Executive Orders to replace every unconstitutional one that Obama signed on Trump’s very first day in office. But DACA got lost in the mix. In fact, when he was a new candidate, Trump spoke out in support of DACA, so this one was a toss-up.
In press conferences, Sean Spicer had refused to comment on the issue. We were kept in the dark until last week on Tuesday when President Trump stated he would keep Obama’s unconstitutional EO intact.
Who is eligible for DACA relief?
Those who meet the following criteria can apply for DACA:
- Are under age 31 as of 6/15/2012.
- Came to the U.S. under age 16.
- Have continuously remained in the U.S. from 6/15/2007 (excluding brief humanitarian travel); entered the U.S. without inspection or fell out of lawful visa status before 6/15/2012.
- Were physically present in the U.S. on 6/15/2012, are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or armed forces;have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, or more than 3 misdemeanors of any kind; and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Applicants must provide documentary evidence of the above criteria. In addition, every applicant must complete and pass a biographic and biometric background check.
What is the primary issue? How can an undocumented person prove when he was born? They come here without papers on purpose and often get fake documents drafted for them in the black market. Birthdates are easily fudged. How can he prove he didn’t sneak back and forth across the border numerous times? Then the government must locate all these people. What do they give them? Benefits while they wait for a deferred citizenship? A new green card? A social security number? These elements may be drafted into the proposal, but they have yet to be enforced. This is the practical element of DACA. But the real question is, who owns it? The Democrats or the Republicans? I think it’s fair to say that Barack Obama owns this and it’s a liberal policy co-opted by President Trump.
And what about these other Obama-owned issues?
Throughout the primaries and even the general election, Trump was somewhat elusive in his stance on the LBGTQ community, although there were hints along the way. Those who truly listened heard how he sided with the liberals on this issue. This ranged from his approval of transgenders using the bathroom of their choice with no regard to the privacy or safety of others to stating that same-sex marriage was “settled” law by the Supreme Court. All doubt was put to rest when in late January, mere days after taking the oath of office, it was announced that President Trump would indeed be keeping Obama’s unconstitutional EO 13672, which establishes workplace privileges and protection to the LBGTQ community.
Now let’s be clear. Republicans/Conservatives aren’t opposed to the equal rights and protections for the LBGTQ community. In fact, it is just the opposite; we believe that those rights and protections should be applied to ALL people and communities…ALL AMERICANS! However, we believe that the rights and liberties of one segment of the population should never take precedent over any other. Our support ends once the actions of one infringe on the rights of another.
The reason this particular EO issued by Obama received so much opposition from the right, is that nowhere in the order does it protect the religious liberties of others. There have been far too many examples where Christian business owners have been sued for staying true to their religious convictions by refusing to provide their services for a gay wedding. Because of this EO, they are losing in court, which has forced many to lose the businesses that they worked so hard to build. In fact, less than two weeks ago, a florist who refused to provide her services for a gay wedding, lost her case in Washington Supreme Court which unanimously ruled against her. They all agreed that she had violated the Anti-Discrimination law even though she often serviced the couple and never discriminated against them. The couple who had been regular customers of hers wanted to force her to provide flowers for their wedding, even though it went against her personal religious beliefs. It was a direct infringement of her religious liberty.
Almost any other Republican President would have wanted to protect her Constitutional rights by eliminating such an intrusive and liberal EO, yet Trump decided to keep it in effect. It has been said that he will be issuing another executive order which will specifically provide protection for religious liberty. If, in fact, he does this remains to be seen. Until then, Christian business owners will continue to come under assault.
In the meantime, while Trump has been breaking his promises by keeping some of the most liberal and unconstitutional EO’s from the Obama administration, his daughter has been keeping hers. Even though Ivanka Trump is not an elected official, that hasn’t stopped her from reaching out to and contacting Congress almost immediately after her father’s victory. She pushed them to move forward with her signature child care reform (which is estimated to cost $500 billion) and mandated maternity leave legislation. This type of entitlement expansion and tax increasing legislation wouldn’t be so surprising coming from an Obama or Clinton administration, but supposedly it was a Republican administration which won the election. It is far more alarming coming from an administration which is supposed to represent the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility.
In an alternate reality where Hillary Clinton won the election, it would be easy to see Chelsea Clinton pushing Congress for similar legislation.
As policy lines continue to be blurred it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish the difference between a Trump administration and an Obama administration. It’s very frightening to note that Trump is keeping the most controversial liberal policies and doing away with the ones which were acceptable. It will be interesting to see how these liberal policies flowing from Trump and his family will be handled by a Republican-controlled Congress. Will they cave as they so often did with Obama or will the stand up for principles and policies that are important to their constituents? When Obama had a solid Democrat-controlled Congress, he was criticized for not getting anything done. Now the shoe is one the other foot. When will this start to look like a Republican administration?