WaPo Upbraids SNL

Saturday Night Live actually had an opening skit criticizing President Obama. Yes, an NBC show dared to suggest that Obama isn’t the magnificent hero they want him to be.

If you didn’t catch it, here it is. It concerns a takeoff on the Schoolhouse Rock skit on how a bill becomes a law.

Doing something like that should, evidently, never be the right of conservatives. It’s an Alinsky tactic to make fun of your opponent and only liberals get to do that according to the Washington Post. That newspaper saw fit to nitpit the skit.

Zachary Goldfarb, policy editor (what the heck is that?), writes:

This skit got a couple of things right, and a couple of things wrong. For starters, Obama didn’t sign an executive order. He is taking executive action, in particular by directing the Department of Homeland Security to expand programs that defer deportation for classes of undocumented immigrants — parents of U.S. citizens or permanent-resident children, as well as undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.

Obama’s action on Thursday adds 4 million new eligible immigrants, on top of the 1 million young immigrants who became eligible for deferred deportation under Obama’s original 2012 program.

The cold open got the basic explanation of what the difference is between a law and executive order right. And SNL also is correct that more Americans, even if they support comprehensive immigration reform, don’t believe Obama should do it by fiat.

As to whether the executive action is unconstitutional? That’s a matter of debate, of course. Some House Republicans think so and may add a complaint to a suit they are planning to file challenging Obama’s executive actions on his health-care law.

One Obama backer who also supports a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws says the action may be impeachable, as “by constitutional design, impeachment for ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ is a political accusation.”

The best case may come from Republican governors and state attorneys general, who say that the actions will put new burdens on their local governments and that, thus, they may have the most legal “standing” to sue. Kansas’s secretary of state, Kris Kobach, is one of them and is profiled in Sunday’s Washington Post.

All that said, many legal experts are dubious about the success of a constitutional or legal challenge. Indeed, Obama benefits from considerable precedent: Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan used their authorities to extend protection to illegal immigrants.

According to the Justice Department memo spelling out Obama’s legal authority, the president is drawing a careful line. He is protecting the parents of citizens and permanent residents — people who could conceivably have a right to become citizens in the future given they are the family of lawful permanent residents or citizens.

Meanwhile, young immigrants bought to the United States as children had no say in their parents’ decision to violate U.S. immigration law. Notably, the parents of these “dreamers,” as advocates call them,” are not protected under Obama’s action, unless they also have children who are citizens and permanent residents. From the Justice memo:

Many provisions of the [Immigration and Nationality Act] reflect Congress’s general concern with not separating individuals who are legally entitled to live in the United States from their immediate family members. … But the immigration laws do not express comparable concern for uniting persons who lack lawful status (or prospective lawful status) in the United States with their families.

Obama’s measure still goes far beyond his predecessors, who shielded anywhere from 100,000 to 1.5 million people from deportations. If there is a court challenge, it would, in any event, go on for years, perhaps into the next president’s term.

And so what matters most for Obama’s action is public opinion, and what his successor does. The SNL skit, in that sense, doesn’t help him.

So along with a dubious lesson in political science, we also get a lot of preaching on immigrants.

Sad, isn’t it, what has become of journalism these days.

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