On Thursday, the President delivered on his threat to circumvent Congress and address the illegal immigration problem with an executive order. There were many inconsistencies with his 15 minute speech, most notably the fact that Obama has said over 20 times in the past that he doesn’t have the authority to do what he is now doing. The list of half-truths and misinformation is too long to completely dissect but here are the 5 most striking examples of dishonesty from the President.
1 and 2.
“Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.”
– Generally, when someone has to tell you that something they are saying is a fact, it isn’t a fact. In this case, there are a couple extraneous facts sprinkled in to obfuscate from the fundamental one. The statistics regarding more border agents and border crossings being at the lowest level since the 70s are true. There are very legitimate reasons for those occurrences that don’t have anything to do with the President, but the problem is that he is coupling those facts with statements that are not true in order to further the narrative that the border is secure when it is not. Here are some more facts. The “brief spike” the President referred to was a full blown border crisis this summer in which over 50,000 unaccompanied minors streamed across the southern border. In 2011, 16,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the border and in 2014 so far, that number is 68,361 which was a significant increase from last year’s number of about 38,000. That drastic increase, no doubt sparked by the promise of amnesty/legal status, represented a humanitarian crisis the likes of which we have never seen at the border. Referring to this increase as a “brief spike” may not be a lie but it is extremely disingenuous. Although illegal crossings may be down when compared to the 1970s, by no means are they going down. Illegal border crossings went up 14% last year and have gone up every year for the past 3 years. The main problem with border statistics is that they can be very easily manipulated. For example, the recorded number of illegal border crossings represents the number of people who are caught crossing the border. This doesn’t account for all the people who crossed the border undetected which would surely make the numbers higher.
3. “The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century.”
– This statement straddles the line between disingenuous and deceitful like Sancho Panza straddled his mount. MSNBC and other outlets have been circulating the idea that every President has done this before and therefore this announcement is “no big deal”. That sounds nice. But it isn’t true. No President has ever addressed the legal status of this many people without referencing accompanying legislation. Not Reagan. Not H.W. Bush. They all signed executive orders that were RELATED to illegal immigration but in every case they were connected to improving recently passed legislation. This action is circumventing laws currently on the books and is not tied to any bill. The previous instances also addressed a significantly smaller amount of people, only 100,000 in Reagan’s case, compared to 5 million under Obama’s plan. The notion that this action is par for the course is patently false.
4. “But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants — in every state, of every race and nationality — will still live here illegally.”
– Entering the country illegally is a crime. Therefore, according to the law, every illegal immigrant is by definition a criminal. His failure to acknowledge that even though the majority of these immigrants are nice people, they broke the law. In essence, The President is deciding which laws will be enforced and which won’t. Because of that unilateral forgiveness of a crime, this is a constitutional crisis no matter how you look at it. The proof of that is the multiple examples of the President admitting that he does not have the power to stop deportations. The conversation should end right there. He said he can’t do it. He was right. Let’s move on.
5. “I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today — millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.”
– This was probably the biggest jaw dropper of the night. The President seems to forget that he was the one playing politics with illegal immigration by opting to hold off on this announcement until after the election because the polls showed this decision would hurt Democrats in the midterms. Beyond that, The President was basically using reverse-psychology reminiscent of the childhood “I know you are but what am I?” defense. He claims that what we have now, a broken system for sure, is amnesty. But his executive order, which grants legal status to 5 million illegal immigrants, is not. The forgiving of a crime, which this is, represents the very definition of amnesty. The current system is by no means ideal but it isn’t structured to reward those who break the law. This executive action does that. If the President is upset because the current system is amnesty, why would his solution be to give more amnesty by forgiving 5 million people who entered this country illegally? It doesn’t add up.
Fair minded people will surely have disagreements about immigration reform but the conversation can’t begin without the acknowledgement of all the facts, not just the convenient ones.