President Obama’s unilateral action on immigration has no precedent

Discussion in 'News / Current Events' started by Revmitchell, Dec 4, 2014.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    THE WHITE House has defended President Obama’s unilateral decision to legalize the presence of nearly 4 million undocumented immigrants as consistent, even in scope, with the executive actions of previous presidents. In fact, it is increasingly clear that the sweeping magnitude of Mr. Obama’s order is unprecedented.

    Central to the administration’s argument is its contention that the 4 million covered by the president’s order — some 36 percent of the estimated undocumented population of 11 million — is in line with the percentage covered by a comparable action by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. At that time, there were about 3.5 million illegal immigrants in the country; Mr. Obama, administration officials and their allies have said that about 1.5 million of them — the spouses and children of previously amnestied immigrants — benefited from Mr. Bush’s move.

    In addition to the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, and Mr. Obama himself, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel cited the Bush executive action as precedent, using the figure of 1.5 million immigrants.

    However, as The Post’s Glenn Kessler has scrupulously reported , there is every reason to believe that the estimate is wildly exaggerated and based mainly on what appears to have been a misunderstanding at the time.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...d78650-79a3-11e4-9a27-6fdbc612bff8_story.html
     
  2. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    Who knew that an article that appeared on Page 3 of the metro section of the New York Times nearly a quarter-century ago could have such resonance in today’s policy debates?

    As part of its justification for President Obama’s executive action on immigration, the White House and its allies have repeatedly stressed that Obama’s action, in impact, is roughly equivalent to a step that George H.W. Bush took in 1990. The United States had about 3.5 million illegal immigrants in 1990, so 1.5 million would be about 40 percent of that number. Given that about 40 percent of the current number of undocumented immigrants would be covered by Obama’s actions, that 1.5 million figure is crucially important to the White House’s defense of the president’s decision.

    Much of the news media, including The Washington Post, has repeated the 1.5 million figure as a fact in recent weeks. But it turns out that the number hangs on a slim reed....


    ...The Pinocchio Test

    The 1.5 million figure is too fishy to be cited by either the White House or the media. As best we can tell, this is a rounded-up estimate of the number of illegal immigrants who were married (1.3 million became 1.5 million.)

    McNary actually believes the congressional exchange that spawned the number was based on a misunderstanding. In any case, it certainly was not a widely reported estimate in 1990. The number was buried in a single news article — and just because it was in the New York Times does not mean it was true. Eventually, however, it also got picked up by CRS, even though it does not appear to have been an official estimate.

    Let’s recall that even the Times’ article indicated this was a high-end estimate — “as many as 1.5 million.” Other news reports were careful to say INS officials had no firm numbers. It’s now hardened in White House statements as “more than 1.5 million.”

    Indeed, the 100,000 estimate that the INS gave on the day of the announcement might have been optimistic. Fewer than 50,000 applications had been received before the policy was superseded by a new law. The numbers generated by that law — a little more than 140,000 — further indicate that the universe of potential applicants was much smaller than 1.5 million, especially given that the law eased restrictions even more.

    To be fair, however, the “take-up rate” could be affected by other factors, such as a reluctance to pay fees or provide documentation to federal authorities. But in the end, 200,000 amounts to about 6 percent of the illegal immigrant population at the time, not 40 percent.

    We initially gave this claim a rating of Four Pinocchios. But the discovery of congressional testimony with the 1.5 million figure, no matter how confusing or disputed, does explain how the number could end up in a news report and ultimately in a CRS report–even though it is contradicted by all other INS statements at the time. So we are reducing this rating to Three Pinocchios.

    Three Pinocchios
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