Krauthammer's immigration lies: A lot of garbage crammed into one column

Charles Krauthammer's column on immigration, Obama, and impeachment gets mostly everything wrong

Published August 8, 2014 4:34PM (EDT)

Charles Krauthammer            (CBS News)
Charles Krauthammer (CBS News)

Charles Krauthammer’s Washington Post column from this morning on immigration and Barack Obama put me in a bit of a bind. I read it and re-read it a few times to try and nail down the most dishonest passage, or the most glaring instance of political or policy ignorance, but the options were far too many for me to settle on a single one. So, rather than pursue this futile attempt at prioritization, I’ll just go paragraph by paragraph and point out the many, many things Krauthammer gets wrong.

President Obama is impatient. Congress won’t act on immigration, he says, and therefore he will. The White House is coy as to exactly what the president will do. But the leaks point to an executive order essentially legalizing an enormous new class of illegal immigrants, perhaps up to 5 million people.

Actually, the president has been remarkably patient on immigration reform. He’s been talking up executive action on immigration for a long time now, but he delayed taking action in order to give the House Republicans more time to come up with their own legislation (which they never did). As for the notion that Obama will sign “an executive order essentially legalizing an enormous class of illegal immigrants,” that’s not actually something he can do. The president can shift priorities for enforcement and shield certain groups from deportation, but he can’t unilaterally grant anyone legal status, as Krauthammer’s weasel-wordy use of “essentially legalizing” suggests. That may seem like a distinction without a difference, but changes to the law are much more durable than orders issued by the White House.

Moving on:

One doesn’t usually respond to rumors. But this is an idea so bad and so persistently peddled by the White House that it has already been preemptively criticized by such unusual suspects as (liberal) constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, concerned about yet another usurpation of legislative power by the “uber presidency,” and The Post editorial page, which warned that such a move would “tear up the Constitution.”

There is no actual proposal from the White House yet. That’s a key point that Krauthammer, the Washington Post editorial board, and others seem determined to ignore when accusing the president of shredding the Constitution.


If this is just a trial balloon, the time to shoot it down is now. The administration claims such an executive order would simply be a corrective to GOP inaction on the current immigration crisis — 57,000 unaccompanied minors, plus tens of thousands of families, crashing through and overwhelming the southern border.

No… the executive action Krauthammer is talking about is, and always has been, a response to the House Republicans’ refusal to take up the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, or any other immigration reform legislation. The executive action that Obama said he’d take on the border – the actions John Boehner demanded he take – pertain to the processing and deportations of those same unaccompanied minors.

This rationale is a fraud.

That’s true! But only because Krauthammer literally just invented it.


First, the charge that Republicans have done nothing is plainly false. Last week, the House passed legislation that deals reasonably with this immigrant wave. It changes a 2008 sex-trafficking law never intended for (and inadvertently inviting) mass migration — a change the president himself endorsed before caving to his left and flip-flopping. It also provides funds for emergency processing and assistance to the kids who are here.

Haha. Okay… Krauthammer might be the only person on earth who could look at the embarrassing spectacle the House GOP put on last week as it shambled about trying to pass its own border bill and call it a good-faith effort undertaken in the spirit of “reason.” The House leadership only got the bill passed after caving to the demands of hardline anti-immigrant nativists like Rep. Steve King. The vast majority of funding authorized by the bill goes towards border security, not the processing of the immigrant minors. And it was paired with a bill to end Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which would make hundreds of thousands of DREAMers newly eligible for deportation. It was legislation the Republicans passed simply so they could go back tell their constituents that they did something and not be complete liars.

Anyway, the point Krauthammer arrives at after all this dissembling and lying is that Obama is only taking action on immigration so that he can invite impeachment by the House GOP and thus energize the Democratic base headed into the midterms. Again, Obama’s been imploring House Republicans to pass an immigration bill for over a year now, but Krauthammer snips all that history off so that he can spin a political conspiracy. He also ignores the fact that vulnerable Democratic incumbents oppose executive action on immigration.

That’s a lot of garbage to cram into just one column.

By Simon Maloy

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