I'm not an expert on the Constitution and don't know whether the President's executive order on immigration was legal, and even supporters are suggesting that the timing could have been better. Let's put that aside. What about a discussion of the implications of the order? How thoroughly was it thought through? While the problem to some is that the President spoke at all, the real problem is that we're now saddled with an executive order that cannot be implemented in any meaningful way.
Start with the idea that the law has provisions that must be verified. What sort of bureaucracy is going to be created to enforce those provisions and investigate the backgrounds of five million people? Please don't tell me that we have enough slack in current agencies that they can simply absorb five million new enquiries, and potentially complex ones at that. Already, we're unable to screen airport passengers or gun license applicants adequately. Our country is rife with Medicare and Medicaid cheats. Individual states are unable to police their own welfare systems. Now we're going to add a giant tranche of people to a governmental system that struggles, usually unsuccessfully, to handle the responsibilities it already owns.
Even with the bureaucracy in place, how does one establish that an illegal immigrant has been in the country for five years? There will be any number of circumstances where people will be willing to lie for other people, whether it is to shield a relative, retain an employee, or just keep someone with a financial obligation in the country to maintain the possibility of repayment. Any number of scenarios could be devised. The time limit begs additional questions. Is the implication that five years is now a statute of limitations for illegal immigration? Are we to assume that the President is really willing to expel people who have been here for four years and ten months?
What about the repayment of taxes? Will this include the state and local taxes due the communities that have had to shoulder the burden of carrying these people within municipal infrastructures? These people are illegal. There may be no trail of their employment whatsoever. Does an illegal immigrant who claims no employment history have any obligation? What employer is going to step forward to verify anything, thus incurring the implication of not paying withholding taxes or committing employment violations? Are these taxes going to count toward Social Security?
The President has cavalierly stated that these people will not receive the subsidies from the Affordable Healthcare Act. And? They simply won't need or get healthcare? How does this relieve the assault on the nation's emergency rooms that already have to take care of legal residents that shouldn't be there? How will municipalities deal in general with children suddenly showing up in schools, and their parents seeking benefits?
The President will give the five million immigrants social security cards. Does the executive order have any provisions to deal with irregularities? Will someone be instantly expelled for selling a social security card or sharing a number?
And finally, what additional legal resources will be dedicated to hear the endless appeals sure to arise from this order? Already, local court systems are suffering from shortages of judges sent to the borders to deal with emergent immigration issues stemming from the recent flood of illegal child immigrants.
These issues come immediately to mind. What will wiser people realize as they examine the implications of this order?
The order also raises the overarching problem of the sweeping order or omnibus bill. Our leaders never seem to know what's contained in them or what issues may appear. The Affordable Care Act has been a perfect example. As a minor investor in an offshore fund, I was newly exempted in 2011 from filing my holdings with the IRS because of a clause in the Act. I've never heard this discussed.
Congressional Republicans will react violently to this order for reasons ranging from disagreement with its policies to outright hatred of the President. These should be secondary. The reason for opposing the order should be the same as for opposing any sweeping legislation, such as the pending immigration bill passed by the Senate. The results of their enactment are generally not thought through adequately. The consensus seems to be that legislation should first be passed and then tweaked later, a process called spiral development in the military. It sometimes causes serious problems in weapons development. In legislation, it means living with problems until a cumbersome process addresses them. Why not have thoroughly vetted piecemeal bills that will avoid at least some of the problems that the new executive order will create? The Democrats are on board with immigration reform, and the Republicans know that they'll have to do something before 2016.