Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Immigration Debate Is About More Than Trade

Published in The Tennessean, Sunday, February 6, 2013 and at

Richard J. Grant

President Barack Obama has already ensured that legitimate immigration reform is practically impossible during his reign. But this should be no surprise: he has made many things impossible.

The president’s track record of disregarding, or failing to enforce, laws that he doesn’t happen to like give us anything but assurance that he or his successors would enforce the border security provisions that would be a necessary part of any immigration deal. He exemplifies the morally consistent progressive who studies the Constitution with the same detachment as the activist who studies the obstacles around which he wishes to maneuver. Skirting a mere statute is, comparatively speaking, a cakewalk.

The president has not only refrained from enforcing the politically inconvenient aspects of immigration laws, but has obstructed their enforcement by other levels of government. On this and other issues, he plays a game of “Catch Me If You Can.”

Even when he is caught, as when a federal court recently ruled unconstitutional his “recess” appointments to the NLRB when the Senate was not in recess, he merely appeals the case while running out the clock. Only that which can be enforced will be taken seriously as law. Those parts of a statute most difficult to enforce, whether because they are expensive or because they lack a concentrated interest group as champion, will be the parts that fall into disuse.

The amnesty portion of any immigration bill would be the easy part to enforce, but the border security aspect, as President Ronald Reagan found out ...

Richard J. Grant is a Professor of Finance and Economics at Lipscomb University and a Senior Fellow at the Beacon Center of Tennessee. His column appears fortnightly on Sundays. E-mail messages received at: