Somebody needs to work on their talking points a bit more. Congressman Peter Welch (D – Vermont) made an appearance on MSNBC to talk to Lawrence O’Donnell this week to discuss the President’s immigration plan. In a rather startling turn of events, Matthews completely failed to stick to the normal script and asked him why a particular section of the plan was even permissible under the law. The results are instructive.
Lawrence O’Donnell: No one at the White House has been able to give me the legal justification for the following component of the President’s plan which was leaked to the New York Times. the part where it says… that the President will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents. Can you tell me and has the White House told you, what is the legal justification for the President to create a new category of beneficiaries for work documents? How can that be done without legislation?
Congressman Peter Welch: You know, Lawrence, I can’t tell you, and I’m not the lawyer who’s going to be litigating this case. So the answer to that would be decided by the courts as you and I know. But here’s what I can tell you…
L.O.: Congressman, so as far as you know, and I don’t mean to badger about this but I’ve been on this for days now. I haven’t heard from a single elected Democrat, not one Democrat in Washington who can answer the question that I just put to you. Have you heard it Have you heard it answered by any Democrats?
P.W: I haven’t. I haven’t.
But really. What difference, at this point, does it make? (Sorry, Hillary.) We have to sign the executive action to find out if the executive action is legal. Hey… that sounds like a whole new area of political science and legal theory!
The legal questions surrounding this will probably take a long time to sort out. If the President wants to change immigration policy by ordering ICE to not enforce certain provisions, I’m not sure what anyone can do about it. By oath, the POTUS is supposed to be honor bound to enforce the laws of the United States of America, but there aren’t always resources to enforce every law fully, so the courts are lenient in letting that dodge go by. But creating a new category of immigration documents? That sounds like a legislative action, not an option of the executive. I’d like to see that one go to the courts.