When anti-federalists were scared that the proposed Constitution would grant the president king-like powers, Alexander Hamilton penned an essay in Federalist 69 to allay their fears. Among the paradigm differences distinguishing the power of a president from that of a king, Hamilton wrote, whereas “the one [a president] can confer no privileges whatever, the other [a king] can make denizens of aliens.”
In 2012, President Obama, after declaring, “I am president; I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself,” proceeded to not only grant illegal aliens amnesty but to confer on them positive privileges of denizens, namely work permits and Social Security cards. Because of those cards issued to over 770,000 aliens, billions of dollars in refundable tax credits, aka welfare, were handed out to them in violation of immigration law and the welfare reform bill of 1996. Not a single Democrat protested. To be fair, not too many Republicans did either.
Now, evidently, Democrats believe it is OK for a president to unilaterally make residents of aliens and divert taxpayer funding for their welfare, but a president can’t use defense funds for our own border against the cartels who are bringing in the very aliens incentivized to come as a result of Obama’s executive action.
Obama handed out resident status to roughly 770,000 illegal aliens, of which about 683,000 are still active. Providing this primarily low-income group of individuals with Social Security cards made them all eligible to collect the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is essentially a wealth transfer program through the tax code. While there is no definitive data on how much we spent on refundable credits for this particular amnesty, a 2015 estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation predicted that Obama’s second executive amnesty – DAPA – would cost $2 billion in earned income tax credits (EITC) over five years just for the retroactive portion of back taxes they were eligible for until the program was halted by the courts. The CBO gave a similar estimate for a parallel amnesty proposal in 2017, concluding that the cost of the EITC accessed by this population would be $5.5 billion over 10 years. Either way, the point is that to this very day, these illegal aliens unlawfully granted Social Security cards are drawing funds from the Treasury pursuant to an illegal executive order.
And $5.5 billion is roughly the same amount Trump would transfer from other defense accounts to the border wall under the Emergencies Act, except he would be doing so pursuant to statute and in defense of our sovereignty. Obama did this in violation of statute and in violation of the sacred trust of the American people by handing out welfare to invaders. Even if one is uncomfortable with Trump’s particular decision, there is simply no comparison to Obama’s DACA amnesty. For Democrats to support DACA to this day is scandalous hypocrisy.
Just how insane was Obama’s amnesty, which is still astoundingly being implemented by Trump? Recipients were eligible to file back taxes, according to Obama’s royal edict, and could retroactively collect the refundable tax credits for previous years. In a written response to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, then IRS-Commissioner John Koskinen confirmed that “not only can an individual amend a prior year return to claim EITC, but an individual who did not file a prior year return may file a return and claim EITC” and that “a taxpayer claiming the EITC is not required to have an SSN before the close of the year for which the EITC is claimed.”
Obviously, this was designed for legal immigrants and American citizens, but by Obama unilaterally declaring 770,000 illegal aliens to be legal and issuing Social Security cards, he opened the door for them to steal from America’s treasury.
A CRS memo in 2015, in response to a query from Sens. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., confirmed that illegal alien families would be eligible for tens of thousands of dollars in tax credits from this retroactive scheme. Remember, most illegal aliens are low-income and get back much more than they pay in taxes. A whopping 87 percent of illegal immigrant households benefit from at least one federal welfare program (not including refundable tax credits), primarily because of children born in America.
Talk about illegally reprogramming funds! And there was no emergency declaration or statute backing him up at the time. The only emergency was the need for more Democrat votes.
Section 401(c)(1) of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 (PRWOA), the famous welfare reform bill, bars unlawfully present aliens from receiving any “retirement, welfare, health, disability, public or assisted housing, postsecondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit, or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual, household, or family eligibility unit by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States.”
Refundable tax credits should definitely count as forms of payments and assistance to individuals because all government budget scoring entities, including the Treasury Department, the IRS’ parent department, count refundable tax credits as “outlays,” not just reductions in revenue. The Congressional Budget Office, the arm of Congress that wrote the welfare reform statute prohibiting programs from being doled out to illegal aliens, counts refundable tax credits among “income security” programs, such as food stamps and housing assistance. Also, the language of the 1996 statute makes clear the intent of the law: “It is a compelling government interest to remove the incentive for illegal immigration provided by the availability of public benefits.”
What Obama did is even worse when you view it from the standpoint of legal immigrants. The 1996 welfare reform law, when it is actually enforced, prevents green card holders from accessing public benefits for five years based on the principle that permanent resident immigrants who come to the U.S. should be contributing to society as a condition of entry. Yet illegal immigrants not only got a reprieve from deportation, but were paid with the refundable tax credits that are not even available to hard-working legal immigrants.
Yet to this day, both Congress and the White House continue to champion this program.
Every day, one law after another is being violated in order to accommodate people whose entire presence here is illegal. It sets off a chain reaction of illegal behavior on their part and the part of government, most prominently accommodating identity theft. But when the end goal is to help illegal aliens, it’s not just permissible, but laudatory. Conversely, when an executive action is done to protect America from very harmful effects, then it’s terrible.
But the hypocrisy of Democrats is even worse. Not only was Obama’s amnesty more out of legal bounds than Trump’s executive order by many orders of magnitude, it is also the exact reason why Trump must take action at the border today.
From the time DACA was announced, in 2012, through 2014, the number of unaccompanied minors apprehended from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras increased 490 percent, 444 percent, and 610 percent respectively. The El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) drafted a memo in 2014 asserting that 95 percent of the border-crossers interviewed cited the promise of amnesty as the primary factor behind their migration. During the height of the UAC surge in 2014, the Washington Post admitted that it was “driven in large part by the perception they will be allowed to stay under Obama administration’s immigration policies.”
That perception is now a reality, with a gushing flow thanks to the Trump administration continuing DACA, as well as other catch-and-release policies in deference to illegal universal injunctions from district judges.
Yesterday, Speaker Pelosi declared that Trump is “asking each and every one of us to turn our backs on the oath of office that we took to the Constitution of the United States.” I think she is right. It is absolutely illegal for Trump to continue validating Social Security cards and drawing refundable tax credits for illegal aliens, pursuant to Obama’s executive action. Consequently, if she really cared about her oath to the Constitution and also wanted to serve as a check on executive power grabs, she’d propose a resolution to overturn the DACA amnesty.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.