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What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.
“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.
Good Samaritan or Power Grabber?
President Obama goes solo on immigration reform
By Jim Ray
Granted, you’re not likely to run into President Obama at your local Wal-Mart, but it’s the perfect place to illustrate what is about to happen with America’s immigration policy. Enter Kristopher Oswald, a 30-year-old Wal-Mart employee who, while taking a lunch break from his stocking duties at his Michigan store, looked outside to see a man assaulting a woman in the parking lot. Oswald intervened to save the woman from injury, taking a few punches for his troubles in the process.
For this, he was fired by Wal-Mart for “violation of a company policy.” The police, meanwhile, said he “did the right thing.” Then, after the story became a public relations disaster for Wal-Mart, they offered Oswald his $8.70 per hour job back. The President earns a little more than that, but faces a similar dilemma when contemplating whether or not to issue executive orders. What situations require his emergency intervention? When should he wait and follow official policy—in this case, congressional policy? And what should happen to him if he oversteps his authority?
Last month President Obama announced he would change immigration policy on his own, arguing the situation is urgent and Congress is unwilling or unable to craft new laws. In recent weeks, a surge of children from Central America crossing the border has added to the nation’s 11 million illegal aliens, and served to highlight the ineffectuality of current federal immigration laws.
Although House Republicans did pass a new bill to create an expedited process for sending home unaccompanied children, the Democratic-controlled Senate will not likely even consider it. Thus, President Obama is preparing an “Executive Order” on immigration that his advisors say will be so explosive it may trigger an impeachment.
The current administration’s liberal use of executive orders has generated controversy, but such actions have been used by every president. The issue is this: the U.S. Constitution carefully “separates the powers” among the executive, legislative and judicial branches, so that no single branch of government can have unchecked power. But historically, Congress has given the President considerable latitude in administering and implementing laws and programs. Critics now say President Obama has crossed the line. Supporters say he has no choice because Congress won’t do anything. Like Kristopher Oswald, who was unwilling to sit by while a woman was being beaten in the Wal-Mart parking lot, President Obama says he must act now to solve the immigration crisis.
How has this played out in the past? President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order, not approved by Congress at the time. It was considered an emergency war measure calculated to further undermine the Confederacy. Though contentious and provocative, it proved to be an inspired decision.
But when Harry Truman issued an executive order in 1952 taking over the steel industry, the Supreme Court struck it down, ruling that a stalemate in Congress was not justification for the President to act unilaterally. The “separation of powers was adopted by the Convention of 1787 not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power,” the Court noted. “The purpose was not to avoid friction, but, by means of the inevitable friction incident to the distribution of the governmental powers among three departments, to save the people from autocracy.”
Even so, Justice Robert H. Jackson sounded a caution in the ruling: “I have no illusion,” he wrote, “that any decision by this Court can keep power in the hands of Congress if it is not wise and timely in meeting its problems.”
The current Congress has been called the “least productive in modern history” by the President and in fact, it has passed fewer bills than any in recent times. Some would argue that government failing to create any new laws is actually a good thing, but there is no question the current immigration situation needs fixing, with many voters blaming Congress. Accordingly, Americans will be subject to whatever President Obama decides on his own, unless and until a Court stops him.
This, of course, is more than a political and public relations problem, because it involves millions of desperate people trying to escape poverty and lawlessness. As you pray today, ask God to give America’s leaders the wisdom and humility to craft an immigration policy that protects the nation’s interests while providing compassion and justice for those who seek freedom.
Jim Ray is a writer, fundraiser and consultant. He and his wife Stacey have two children and reside in Nashville, TN.
The following expressions and comments are
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