Democrats' troubling adventure in a 'Wonderland' without 'rule of law'
By Nolan Rappaport, opinion contributor

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I don’t understand the positions the Democrats are taking on the enforcement provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and I was an immigration counsel for the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee for seven years

I represented Democrats in staff level negotiations on immigration provisions for bills and at conferences between the House and the Senate. I counseled them on immigration issues at hearings and markups, and I handed out talking points I wrote for them when a bill was on the floor.

Since then, they seem to have stepped through the looking glass into a Wonderland in which the meaning of a word is dictated by the person speaking it — if the person is a Democrat. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, “it means just what I choose it to mean.”

According to the Democrats, the words in section 1227 of the INA mean that a Democratic president can ignore the deportation grounds Congress wrote and make up his own list of deportation grounds.

This is what the law says:
“(a) Classes of deportable aliens
“Any alien … shall, upon the order of the Attorney General, be removed if the alien is within one or more of the following classes of deportable aliens…”

Democrats have done the same thing with the separation of powers provisions in the U.S. Constitution. The framers of the Constitution believed that the way to safeguard against tyranny was to separate the powers of government into three separate branches so that each would check the other two. Article 1 established the Legislative Branch (Congress) to create the laws. Article 2 established the Executive Branch (the president) to approve and carry out the laws created by the Legislative Branch. And Article 3 established the Judicial Branch (the courts) to interpret the laws passed by the Legislative Branch.

According to the Democrats, this means that they can ignore the laws that Congress passed — and create their own without a vote.
They weren’t doing this when I was their counsel on the Judiciary Committee.

The Democrats’ defiance of the law is illustrated by the transition former President Barack Obama made from enforcing the laws written and passed by Congress to deciding for himself who should be deported.

When the host of a Los Angeles radio program asked Obama to stop the deportations of undocumented aliens in October 2010, Obama said that while his administration was putting less emphasis on deporting families and more emphasis on deporting aliens with criminal records, he was adamant about adhering to the the Separation of Powers principle:

“But the most important thing that we can do is to change the law because the way the system works — again, I just wanna [sic] repeat, I'm president, I'm not king. If Congress has laws on the books that says that people who are here who are not documented have to be deported, then I can exercise some flexibility in terms of where we deploy our resources, to focus on people who are really causing problems as opposed to families who are just trying to work and support themselves. But there's a limit to the discretion that I can show because I am obliged to execute the law. That's what the Executive Branch means. I can't just make the laws up by myself.”

Published originally by The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @NolanR1 or at