Immigration Issue Still a Hot Button
After tumultuous racial tensions, Attorney General Eric Holder stepped down while the inspiration of ire still remained in effect: the Deferred Action at Childhood Arrival (DACA). Many Republicans had taken such policy as outright refusal to enforce the law or even implicitly make new rule not intended by Congress. The nominee, Loretta Lunch, naturally faces a delayed vote in Senate. She had to answer questions which essentially amounted to, “Will the role of Attorney General be an agent for the Constitution, or for the Cabinet only?” Among such questions at the confirmation hearing, immigration issue still remains to be a probe question for jurisprudence and Constitutional views.
Senator Cruz’s second question was on immigration issue. During the confirmation hearing, Senator Cruz (Rep. TX) found it disappointing that Ms. Lynch refused to address, specifically, whether the President has the authority to refuse enforcing written laws authorized by Congress, among which the recent Executive Action announced on 11/20/2014. Ms. Lynch dodged allusion to her reading of Office of Legal Counsel report to the effect of granting amnesty. To her, such executive action was only a managerial prioritization to better enforce the spirit of the law– deport the dangerous immigrants, documented and undocumented first. Her comment on the report only went as far as, “find the report reasonable.”She refused to take other’s report, or opinion, as her professional discretion. This fitted with her strategy to present her as an independent and cautious voice.
The deeper concern was whether Ms. Lynch would simply continue the ongoing trend of expanding Presidential power since the New Deal, the World War II and massive social welfare programs in the 1960’s. Ms. Lynch’s typically and predictably ambiguous answer, would have been as disappointing to proponents of a stronger Executive branch. To many, refusal to enforce law itself is discretion within Presidential power, not another power augmented by the expansion of our administrative state. Senator Cruz, coincidentally, holds the opposite view. Therefore, as elected representatives of a party valuing limited government, Senator Cruz’s disappointment is as foreseeable as that of other parties.
This cautious procession may just be typical of all confirmation hearing and the time with Senator Cruz may not be indicative of the whole. There are, actually, two noteworthy features of this confirmation hearing.
First, Ms. Lynch, though distanced herself from Mr. Holder, appeared implicitly supportive of the present course of policy for immigration issues.
Second, Ms. Lynch distanced herself from Mr. Holder’s stance on all issues and sought to build common ground with, even the most suspicious members of the Republican party. Her strategy was to stay focused on the current law. An example was to acknowledge the NSA program on meta-data collection as “Constitution and effective,” avoiding the comment on the need to reform or the boundary of civil liberty. Another good example was to acknowledge the threat of cyber crimes and the criminal elements of money laundering involved in marijuana trade.
Overall, immigration policy is likely to remain as is. Immigration issues will remain as how as ever a probe in confirmation hearings.