In a move that, if not intentionally calculated to polarize the electorate, might as well have been, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced an order aimed primarily at U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement, by which “low-priority” undocumented persons will effectively no longer be apprehended or deported. It took effectively zero time for critics of the Obama Administration to accuse the President of imperiously, unilaterally, and quite possibly unconstitutionally enacting the DREAM Act, a bill which Congress has twice failed to pass, by Executive Order.

Now, this isn’t an Executive Order. It is a Cabinet Department statement of policy, which is not quite the same thing as an Executive Order. But, does this policy usurp Congress’ clear power to control immigration policy? You don’t have to be a flag-waver for Team Red to be concerned about something like this, after all. 

1. Executive Discretion versus Rule By Decree

I’ve staked out my position on this issue before; coincidentally, in a now mostly set-aside controversy about Arizona’s HB 1040:

There are those who deny that the President has any lawmaking powers at all. If the term “lawmaking” is defined very narrowly in terms of “legislation” that is probably correct, except to the extent that Congress has delegated that power to the President and agencies reporting to him, thus resulting in the amazingly complex and intricate Code of Federal Regulations. But if “lawmaking” is defined as “creating the enforceable rules that govern our society” then it is quite clearly a power shared by, and intended to be shared by, all three branches of government. Prioritizing among various legislative objectives is one of the things left to the President’s discretion and it is, itself, a form of lawmaking. Therefore, Arizona’s law challenges the President’s ability to decide to focus resources in one area and not in another; it attempts to force the President’s hand at allocating resources among various kinds of Federal law enforcement activities. [¶] Prioritizing is a power inherent in the Presidency; it is in a very real sense the most meaningful part of the President’s job.

So, let’s say that instead of this announcement, the President (through his Cabinet Secretary) said this:

I direct ICE and USCIS to prioritize enforcement of deportation as follows: Top priority will be given to identifying, apprehending, and deporting individuals who entered the country without documentation and after doing so committed violent crimes here; second priority will be given to similarly addressing those who committed drug crimes here; third priority to those who did so after fabricating or purchasing fabricated immigration documents with an eye towards disrupting organized criminal operations fabricating forged immigration documentation; and lowest priority to those who entered the country as minors in the custody of their parents and since entry have committed no other crimes.

That wouldn’t bother me in the slightest, and I doubt that deporting violent criminals with greater urgency than deporting non-violent immigrants would meet with many reasonable objections. This isn’t making a law, it’s taking existing law authorizing deportation of undocumented foreign nationals and saying which among that group will be prosecuted first.


2. The Actual Policy

But how does my hypothetical and presumably non-objectionable order compare to the actual order promulgated today? Let’s read the order itself:

The following criteria should be satisfied before an individual is considered for an exercise of prosecutorial discretion pursuant to this memorandum:

  • came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  • has continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and is present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
  • is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  • has not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety; and
  • is not above the age of thirty.

* * *

No individual should receive deferred action under this memorandum unless they first pass a background check and requests for relief pursuant to this memorandum are to be decided on a case by case basis. DHS cannot provide any assurance that relief will be granted in all cases.

Secretary Napolitano uses the word “discretion” five times in her three-page memorandum, four times referring to it as “prosecutorial discretion.” It’s pretty clear she’s aiming at the sort of permissible thing I give my green light to above. But the objection isn’t to the idea that ICE or USCIS or some other agency can exercise prosecutorial discretion, the objection is that the order as a whole effectively enacts a law that Congress has rejected.


3. What the DREAM Act Would Have Wrought

Had it been passed into law, the DREAM Act would have granted permanent residency (conditional upon not committing any crimes) to undocumented foreign nationals of (otherwise than being in the country without documentation) good moral character who: 1) first came to the U.S. as a minor; 2) graduated from a U.S. high school; and 3) had lived in the U.S. continuously for five years. These criteria are similar to but not identical to the criteria in Secretary Napolitano’s policy declaration. DREAM would have given temporary residency to undocumented aliens 35 years or younger who had completed two years of military service and not been dishonorably discharged, or two years of college at an accredited four-year postsecondary institution.

These are strongly similar, but not identical, the criteria Secretary Napolitano describes. A “minor” is generally someone under 18 years, so where DREAM applies to those who entered the U.S. at age 17, the new policy does not. In that sense, the new policy is slightly more restrictive than DREAM. DREAM applied to people 35 years of age or younger; the new policy applies to people 30 years of age or younger, again slightly more restrictive. On the other hand, DREAM would have required a high school diploma for permanent residency and at least two years of college or two years of honorable military service for temporary residency; the new policy requires current enrollment, a high school diploma, or any honorable discharge regardless of length of service, and so is somewhat more permissive than DREAM. “Good moral character” and “has not committed any significant crimes” are roughly the same thing, so those portions of the policy are functionally the same.

The critical difference is that the new policy refers to deferring deportation actions, where DREAM would have granted residency. Under the current policy, those who are eligible for deferments of deportation actions enjoy that deferment for only so long as the discretion of the Executive is that they do so. (Which means, among other things, that if a new Administration takes office, it could unilaterally withdraw this policy.)


4. Back To The Basic Question

I don’t think there’s much doubt that Congress could pass the DREAM Act consistent with the Constitution. That it has not done so is a function of the political pressures on Congress, which presumably reflect the popular will. And I think the DREAM Act is at minimum a step in the right direction to imposing some sense, logic, and rationality in our badly-warped immigration laws. But just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it’s OK with the Constitution. And it’s one thing to set a priority within the framework of existing laws and it’s something else to craft an entirely new policy that is contrary to law and contrary to the expression of political will.

It was actually a close call, with its advocates failing to break a filibuster, having obtained only a minority vote of 52 Senators willing to consider the bill in 2009. The House of Representatives has been cooler to the bill than the Senate, being governed by different rules and different operating norms than the Senate, but there is still both substantial support and entrenched opposition to the proposed law in Congress, and it appears that the entrenched opposition to the proposed law commands a majority of votes. We could presume that this state of affairs roughly mirrors the political will of the electorate as a whole.

But at the same time, the bill has never come to a direct up-and-down vote in either the Senate or the House; it’s always been stymied by filibuster in the Senate and efforts to water down the bill to make it more acceptable to Republicans in the Senate have failed. So the presumption that a majority of Americans disapprove of the DREAM Act based on Congress’ behavior is not a particularly strong one if the reason the bill has failed in the past is due to procedural machinations rather than direct votes.

So the question is, if the President thinks that a large minority of the country has a better idea than the majority, ought the President to respect the wishes of the majority, or ought he to do what he can to implement what he thinks is the better idea despite the political quagmire awaiting the proposal in Congress? That depends on whether you think the President is supposed to represent the people as a whole, or whether he is supposed to lead the government. Ideally, he’d do both at the same time but in this case there is a forced divergence. And in a democracy, a majority deserves a degree of deference even if the majority is only slight.

Constitutionally, the question I think we need to address is whether the proposed new policy is contrary to existing statutory law. That is the clear marker of having crossed the line between setting priorities and making new laws. So far as I know, the new policy is not contrary to existing immigration law, at least not on its face. In substance, the declaration of prioritization that I would permit as described above is actually similar to the declaration of policy issued by Secretary Napolitano today despite its substantive similarity to the twice-failed-in-Congress DREAM Act. As long as the picking and choosing of who to prosecute and who to not prosecute is done along some rational, non-discriminatory basis, I think this is on the right side of things.

To mix sports metaphors to the Constitutional question: this one is close to the foul line, but the ball is in bounds. At least on the face of things.

What might happen, though, is that through the exercise of this discretion, the executive could as a practical matter pick and choose who gets to stay and who goes through deportation proceedings on some irrational or even malign basis. (Not this President, surely, nor his current political adversary from the other party, but some hypothetical future President we all ought to distrust.) Then we’d be looking at a practice that might be contrary to law, not a policy. But challenging a practice is a different thing than challenging a policy. That’s a question we’ll have to defer until another day when actual data about how the policy is actually implemented begins to accumulate.


5. The Political Question

Now, I realize many, many people in the U.S. disagree with my opinion that we need substantial liberalization of current immigration policy; the matter is sharply divisive because there are no easy answers, no good solutions, and ambiguity on both sides of the issue unless one is willing to discard compassion on the one hand, or acknowledgement of the basic realities of law and nationhood on the other. So I fully expect that the political response to this from Team Red and the Romney ’12 campaign should be something along the lines of:

After four years of Barack Obama’s administration, we still have nearly one in ten American citizens who want jobs and don’t have them, and you’re going to let in somewhere between 800,000 to a million non-citizens to compete with them for a bunch of jobs that don’t even exist yet — if they are ever even going to exist?

That could be a powerful political argument to moatdiggers. Those voters who do desire immigration liberalization were probably going to vote for Obama anyway. Those voters who desire immigration restriction were probably going to vote for Romney anyway. If it’s a play to “pump up the base,” anything that even smells like liberalization seems to me that it’s likelier to pump up the moatdiggers more than the open-borders types (with both labels being characterizations of the extreme positions).

So while I think that this is a constitutionally permissible exercise of discretion, until and unless someone can demonstrate how this policy is contrary to statutory law, I also think it may not be the wisest political move.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. “low-priority” undocumented persons will effectively no longer be apprehended or deported.

    If this is treated the same way that pot is treated now that it’s officially the lowest priority of Denver law enforcement, we can expect deportations to increase.

  2. Hey look, a moat..

    And it’s even got alligators in it.

    The afternoon talk radio stations are filled with talk of “wetbacks”, “illegals”, “amnesty for lawbreakers”, and screams about having to press 1 for English. If that’s any indication of what Republican response to this will be for the next few months, I suspect that the debate over this new policy will take a lot of neutral or semi-conservative-leaning Latinos and turn them off from the Republican party.

    • MA

      I wasn’t aware that Barry invited any kind of debate before he acted alone.

      • The debate was already conducted in Congress and nation when the DREAM Act was originally proposed. Don’t you remember?

        Of course, there seems to be an arm of our body politic for which history always begins today.

    • Yes, indeed. Another typical response you’ll be hearing (I already heard it from my wondersheriff, Joe Arpaio) is all “Why now? We have to wonder about the timing.” When the underlying policy is popular (and I think the DREAM Act polled well) one questions the motives of its advocates.

      Obama did well, legally; may he continue to confound his enemies.

      • This action is nothing more than Barry pandering for votes. If he really cared he could have done this months ago when Dream act failed.

    • Less like prosecutorial discretion than jury nullification. This makes a joke of “a nation of laws, not men.”

      I don’t know if even Nixon was this brazenly autocratic.

      • *Sigh*

        Burt took pretty careful pains to elaborate in what ways the order can be construed as prosecutor discretion and in what ways the order might not be amenable to that construal. And he ultimately comes to the conclusion that it’s more accurate than not to place the order in the realm of prosecutor discretion. But that doesn’t matter, because it’s really just “jury nullification.”

        “I don’t know if even Nixon was this brazenly autocratic.”

        It might be helpful to compare and contrast this order with, say, the Saturday night massacre. (click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Massacre) If one makes such a comparison, one’s ignorance about whether “even Nixon was this brazenly autocratic” might be alleviated.

  3. Isn’t this a rather small extension of what was done last summer?

    It seems to me that the main difference is that last year’s was a policy memo, while this one carries the weight of a… memo again? DHS memo? DHS Order?

    If you read the text, it’s not an “amnesty card.” Two-year deferrals, subject to renewal if they show up for new hearings to ask for another deferral.

    It’s also pretty clear that it is definitively about setting priorities (wholly within powers of the Executive):
    However, additional measures are necessary to ensure that our enforcement resources are not expended on these low priority cases but are instead appropriately focused on people who meet our enforcement priorities.

    and not usurping Congressional authority:
    This memorandum confers no substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights. It remains for the executive branch, however, to set forth policy for the exercise of discretion within the framework of the existing law. I have done so here.

    • This was supposed to be a response to Scott’s nonsensical comment above. Not sure why it became a new thread.

      “Barry” in fact did something similar in June 2011, Scott. But I suppose you forgot about that in your rush to make stupid comments.

      • MA

        Barry’s rule by fiat also gives these illegals work permits which could add anywhere from 800k to 1.4m new folks to the work force despite the fact that there is record unemployment among citizens. It would be nice if Barry would worry about citizens first.

        • His name is Barack. Barack Obama. Or Mr. President. Or even just Obama. All of those would be more or less acceptable. Barry is not.

          • Here’s my thing, really…

            If you want to register your disgust or disapproval with an individual or a group and label them with an obvious epithet, go with it, but own it. It will probably impact how others think of you, but at least you’re being up front and willing to stand by what you say.

            But if you’re going to do this silly, “Well, his family used to call him Barry so I’m not doing anything offensive,” when your intent is clearly intended to be derisive, you’re just a coward. Plain and simple.

            Sometime around 1980, President Barack Obama asked his family and friends to stop calling him Barry. As long as he has been in the public eye, he has preferred to be called Barack. He is also the sitting Head of State, which tends to command a certain level of respect in addressing him. Short of that, basic human decency says you ought to call people by the name they prefer. If you want to abandon that decency, go for it. But don’t pretend you are being a decent person when you are obviously not.

          • Hurricane W. Hitlerburton.

            I’ve narrowed the latest contender down to “Mittler Rommelney” but folks have been telling me that “Rommelney” puts it over the top and I should just stick to “Mittler”.

          • Yea, because “Hussein” as a middle name just doesn’t give you enough ammo when it comes to associating him with evil dictators, no?

            I actually saw a funny T-shirt, that I believed to be pro-Obama that said “Barack ‘Who’s Sane’ Obama”. I read it to be saying that HE is the one who is sane. But it was a bit unclear. And still a bit uncomfortable to play on an ethnic/religious name like that. Plus I prefer shirts that say “Mustache Club” over political messaging. But I thought it was interesting.

            But, yes, all of those would suffice to avoid me calling you an insincere coward. I’m not getting “Rommelney” though…

          • I’m not getting “Rommelney” though…

            Erwin Rommel was a famous Nazi field marshall in North Africa. (He was part of the conspiracy to kill Hitler, actually, so he is remembered as one of the good bad guys but you make the Nazi comparisons you have not the Nazi comparisons you wish you had.)

          • Wilhelm mit Rommelney gives you both World Wars.

          • I had thought Rommel wasn’t an official member of the party. Maybe it makes no difference, since he was one of Nazi Germany’s military leaders.

          • Tom, I assure you, I *TRIED* to come up with a Nazish nickname for Obama and I couldn’t figure one out.

            I was able to come up with “Obamatilla” and was pleased with that but it doesn’t type easy nor roll off the tongue. “Obomba” works but if you’re mocking him to hawkish types, they just look confused.

            Barack doesn’t give you too much to work with beyond the sophomoric (Barack you like a hurricane?) and Hussein just feels like low-hanging fruit.

            The clay was just too flawed, in this case.

          • What if we give Hilter a rest and look to the man Hilter idolized before coming to power himself: Benito Mussolini. Mussolini’s nickname was “Il Duce,” “The Leader.” How about “O Duce?”

          • This will never do. Everyone knows the Nazis hated the Marxists. And since Obama’s the Kenyan Marxist, any attempt to germanify his name will fail. Bubububuuuut Marx was a German, too. But he was also a Jew so it’s rather like one of those eighth grade algebra problems where we must cancel out terms and reduce.

            On one thing we can all agree. Obama is not an American name and is therefore suspect.

        • “Barry’s rule by fiat also gives these illegals work permits….”

          I’m not sure this is right, if I understand the memo correctly. It seems to apply to people against whom deportation proceedings have already begun or per item number 3 might conceivably be subject to such proceedings. I know too little of immigration policy and of law to know how to interpret item number 3. So perhaps it might function in practice as a way to give people immunity against deportation for a period of two years, and thus to grant a de facto residency permit. Even so, I think it’s probably a stretch to call it a “work permit.”

          One question I have about item number 3 is whether it’s talking about undocumented people proactively seeking out prior approval from the DOJ or the DHS approval. If it is, I imagine an undocumented person who otherwise qualified for this consideration and against whom deportation proceedings haven’t begun, would be making an unwise choice in seeking out such approval. It would likely make them visible to the government and enable later administrations to deport them.

          • You seem to be referencing this quotation by David Schweikert [bold added by me]:

            Last week, the president decided to grant amnesty and hand out work permits to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, while over 23 million Americans remain unemployed and the civilian participation rate is at a 30-year low….

            In the 3-page memo that Burt linked to, I saw no mention of work permits. It seems that if there’s any “permit” involved, it’s more like a prosecutorial indulgence that the DHS would grant to those who fall within the parameters of the memo.

            Presumably, employment laws would remain in place. Employers and employees will still be required to jump through the necessary hoops to demonstrate that they are “qualified to work in the U.S.”

            Now, I’ll Mr. Schweikert this much: there is a de facto black market in undocumented labor. And now, some of those work in that market, and some of those who hire in that market, will probably “on the margin” operate with slightly more confidence within that market because now their residency status is grayer than before.

            I do invite you (and Schweikert) to read the memo, which can be done in one sitting, and explain to us where the memo can be so construed as to arrogate to the DHS or the presidency the unilateral power to issue work permits, either formally or de facto. I know you’ve said that you’re a lawyer, and if so, I’d appreciate a thoughtful legal analysis to substantiate the “work permit” claim because I, a layperson, don’t see it.

          • Well, I might have to eat some crow. It appears, if I read Mark Thompson’s new post on the subject, that the DHS order might very well grant something like de facto work permits. At least, that’s what I take from his citing of the law that says

            “Any alien who is within a class of aliens described in paragraphs….(a)(10)… of this section, and who seeks to be employed in the United States, must apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a document evidencing such employment authorization. USCIS may, in its discretion, determine the validity period assigned to any document issued evidencing an alien’s authorization to work in the United States….”

            Eligibility under section (a)(10) is allowed for any “alien granted withholding of deportation or removal for the period of time in that status, as evidenced by an employment authorization document issued by the Service.”

          • Pierre, I think it would be most accurate to say that the new DHS policy is explicitly neutral about eligibility for work permits. It neither grants eligibility for such a permit nor does it withhold such eligibility. It neither renders getting one more difficult, nor any easier.

  4. The DREAM Act polled relatively well, so I don’t think that this is a political mistake. Will it energize the right? Maybe, but it will also lead to conservative politicians saying things that will further hurt them with the Hispanic vote and people who don’t like to think of themselves as anti-immigrant.

    I’m not entirely comfortable with announcements that supercede the laws passed by the legislature, but it’s not like it’s not something that they do every day. And sometimes, I’d love to do them more often. It’s part of my sometimes-anti-democratic tendencies.

    Ultimately, though, I think that this is further concession to our inability to come up with a coherent and at least semi-workable immigration policy. Opposition to it is based on the hope that we don’t have to face up to the reality that they’re here and we simply don’t have the heart to send them all back. Don’t interpret this to say that our inability to come up with policy is due to specifically to the right, though. There’s certainly enough blame for that to go around.

    • But this doesn’t supersede any legislation, no law was ever passed. No sophistry here (I hope) — bills fail for many disparate reasons, only one of which is outright rejection in a vote. The DREAM Act didn’t lose in a vote, it was never voted on; by my lights that keeps the issue open to action.

      I think the hand-wringing about this is excessive.

      • Sure the Dems can bring the bill back back up but it would go nowhere again, which is why Barry is acting by fiat. Fiat is not a substitute for the rule of law.

        • No fiats here, just an explanation of how the laws will be enforced: “the speed limit is 65mph, we will most aggressively ticket and prosecute those driving at 85mph and higher, we will ticket and prosecute those driving at 70mph and higher, we will (temporarily) forgo ticketing those driving below 70mph.”

          Prioritizing law enforcement tactics isn’t “fiat”, it’s (part of) the law.

          • 85 in a Fiat, talk about unsafe at any speed! I value my life.

      • Back in Colosse (my home city), the federal government mandated a speed limit of 55mph. This proved to be extremely unpopular. The DA said, in essence, that he would not prosecute any cases brought fourth by the new speed limit.

        Now, this isn’t much different than the standard-and-norm, which is not pulling people over unless they’re doing 10+ over. Yet, because it’s stated policy rather than norms, I tend to kind of put it in a different category.

        I supported the DA and voted for him the next time around even though I’d met him and actually thought he was kind of a dullard. But I supported him in part because of his action on this issue. But there were a lot of people crying bloody murder, and I did understand where they were coming from.

  5. You say that, based on Congressional rejection of the DREAM Act, there is a presumption that the majority rejects it, with the implication that the majority opposes this action. But the President is elected just as democratically as Congress, and presumably is just as responsive to pressures of the majority. Why, then, is the (in)action of Congress accorded the presumption of majority support, while the actions of the President are not?

    • The had majority support in Congress, if you assume that votes to break a filibuster count as support: “having obtained only a minority vote of 52 Senators willing to consider the bill.”

      Fifty-two votes out of (at most) one hundred may not break a filibuster, but it’s hardly a “minority”.

      • I don’t think you understand the niceties of that f-word. In Democratic administrations, it takes 60 votes for the Senate to act. Only in Republican administrations is there a thing called a filibuster.

      • Not my point.

        Regardless of the specifics of how it failed to move in Congress, it seems like it would be inconsistent to presume that Congress acts with the support of the majority but the President does not.

        • Yes, that would be inconsistent — which is why I agreed with you. If the Prez can legally execute the will of a congressional majority more power to him (at least until we get Republicans in charge of everything again).

      • Fifty-two votes out of (at most) one hundred may not break a filibuster, but it’s hardly a “minority”.

        And thus the irony in the comment is exposed. At least as reflected in the Senate, the DREAM Act does command the support of a majority. The minority used procedural tricks to prevent it from taking the next step towards being made into law. Would it have passed the House? Probably not, but we’ll never know for sure. This, in turn, is not a necessarily bad thing as the U.S. Constitution sets up a government that is not strictly majoritarian and by design has checks on the ability of the majority to rule without at least paying attention to and respecting the wishes of the minority. So this may be the system working as intended. But it does cast the characterization of Obama as acting counter to the wishes of the majority into at least some doubt.

        (I actually thought I got quite a lot of mileage out of that phrase. Still pleased with myself.)

        • Well, we all know that “the majority” really refers to whichever folks can command the majority of the airspace when it comes to blathering.

        • I don’t know that we can necessarily say that. If I knew that I could have it both ways… that is, tell people that I supported ending the filibuster while I can tell others that I supported ending the filibuster so I could vote *AGAINST* it, I might be tempted (were I a politician) to do that.

          All that to say, it may have been 52 *BECAUSE* there was a filibuster rather than in spite of it.

        • The DREAM Act passed the House, the House bill then stalled as you described. A Senate version of the Act then stalled with 55 votes pro votes. Sheesh.

          • Surely even in a republic which incorporates non-majoritarian and even counter-majoritarian limits on the functioning of government, not everything should require a super-majority to implement.

          • That does not refudiate the charge of majoritarianism, especially when the admin not only declines to deport, but hands out Green Cards, Burt.

            I can handle benign neglect within the limits of discretion, but not this overt flouting of the laws and bald political play scant months before the election.

            This is toejam, Burt. And I’m a dove on immigration, esp these poor kids dragged here by their parents. But this is unprincipled no matter how you look at it.

          • You’re majoritarians, then. Screw the republic.

            This from a guy who criticized Judge Walker for voiding the will of the majority.

          • It only applies when it’s used to enact something conservatives dislike James.

  6. I don’t know that we can necessarily say that. If I knew that I could have it both ways… that is, tell people that I supported ending the filibuster while I can tell others that I supported ending the filibuster so I could vote *AGAINST* it, I might be tempted (were I a politician) to do that.

    As I mentioned somewhere around here, I don’t think that’s how it’s done these days. A vote against cloture for X is considered a vote against X, and as a result all X’s take 60 votes these days.

  7. As with the same-sex marriage announcement, my first reaction to this: oh, politics. But, also as with the same-sex marriage announcement, my second reaction is that this materially improves, or at least has the potential to materially improve, the lives of actual people. We tend to get lost in the weeds in these things far too often.

    There’s also a sense in which Obama is seen as a cultural leader by a lot of people. What has struck me the most is the strong upsurge in African American support for same-sex marriage since Obama’s announcement. Sure, he’s playing politics. But he’s also playing a kind of long game that stands a decent chance of making US policy more humane. If this decision provides cover for Democrats to support actually sane immigration policy, then so much the better.

    • Everything is so fishing meta these days. If someone does something good, and you can find base motives for it, just reflect that if he did something crappy his motives wouldn’t be any better.

    • In other words, you want the US to be a servant to Mexico’s president. If he supports the policy, the US must oppose it, regardless of whether it’s a good policy. Why do you hate freedom?

      • Heh. Folks don’t seem to realise how those illegal Mexicans, lined up to buy their money transfers, are doing the USA a great service by keeping inflation down, always a great concern to today’s Conservative.

        • If we are relying on illegals’ money transfers to keep inflation in check then the US is even worse shape than I thought.

      • Pierre

        I don’t believe that that the Mexican pres has the US’ best interests at heart.

        • Righto-O, which is why we shouldn’t be held hostage to his policy preferences.

          However, if you want to surrender the United States’ sovereignty to Mexico, I can’t really make you not want to.

          • I realize I’m being punchy, an easy thing online to be. I don’t apologize because I’m not sorry, but I am largely responsible for this childish name-calling, and I’m not going to escalate it any further.

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