If conservatives should have learned anything from President Obama's first four years in office, it is that this chief executive has no qualms about ignoring the law whenever it becomes an obstacle to his ideological agenda, unless Congress or the federal courts force him to do otherwise. Exhibit A here is the Libyan bombing, which Obama's own White House lawyers concluded was a "military action" requiring congressional approval under the War Powers Act. Obama bombed Libya anyway.
Or look at the No Child Left Behind federal education law. When several states sought relief from provisions of the law that classified many of their school districts as "failing," Obama bypassed Congress and unilaterally issued waivers that the Brookings Institution described as "a wholesale executive branch rewrite of federal law through use of the waiver authority."
Then there are Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which he made in violation of the Constitution's requirement that such appointments be made only when the Senate is not in session. When the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled the appointments unconstitutional, Obama instructed his appointees to continue issuing rulings anyway, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court that could take months to complete.
It is in such a context that the 844-page Gang of Eight immigration reform bill released in the wee hours of Tuesday morning appears so frightening. The bill says "the secretary shall" hundreds of times, with each instance representing a new transfer of congressional authority to executive branch bureaucrats.
Not only does the bill create a new bureaucracy -- the Bureau of Immigration and Market Research -- with power to control how many immigrant guest workers enter the country each year, it sets their wages and determines which industries can hire them. This is industrial policy writ large.
The bill also creates a grant program designed to funnel tax dollars to liberal advocacy groups like Casa de Maryland, which will then be used to help illegal immigrants obtain citizenship. Millions more are spent on a new Office of Citizenship and New Americans that is charged with educating recent immigrants on citizenship.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the chief Republican advocate for the bill, insists that all of the billions in new border security spending must be implemented before any illegal immigrant now in the country can obtain permanent legal status. But this claim ignores the lesson of Obama's first term mentioned at the outset. The bill requires the federal government to establish an E-Verify program but provides no consequences for the government if it fails to do so.
The same is true of the bill's visa entry and exit system, border fence and border apprehension requirements. All of these provisions are in the bill, but nothing accompanies them to prevent Obama, or a successor in the Oval Office, from simply ignoring them entirely. The latest Pew Research Center poll released this week found that Americans' opinion of the federal government is at a historic low. Creating more laws for this president to ignore will only deepen the deficit of public trust.