NEW YORK – It’s common knowledge President Obama signed an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security to forgive millions of illegal aliens for their past violations of immigration law, right?
Today the National Archives and Records Administration, responsible for maintaining such filings, said no such executive order was ever signed or filed, confirming WND’s report Wednesday.
A National Archives librarian, Jeffrey Hartley, made the confirmation in an email Thursday to WND.
“As I indicated, it would appear that there is not an Executive Order stemming from the President’s remarks on November 20 on immigration,” Hartley wrote.
Hartley said that neither of the executive orders Obama signed in Las Vegas the day after his announcement fulfill his plan to defer deportations and grant work permits to up to 5 million illegal aliens.
“The only two documents that I have located are two Presidential Memoranda, which are available from the White House site,” Hartley’s email continued. “They can also be found in the November 26, 2014 issue of the Federal Register.”
The two documents Hartley referenced were the two executive orders Obama signed in Las Vegas Nov. 21.
One was a presidential proclamation creating a White House Task Force on New Americans and the other a presidential memorandum instructing the secretaries of State and Homeland Security to consult with various governmental and non-governmental entities to reduce costs and improve service in issuing immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
Meanwhile, the office of Texas Attorney General and Governor-elect Greg Abbott – who has filed a lawsuit against Obama’s immigration action – told WND it was aware there was no executive order signed by Obama implementing the actions outlined to the nation in his Nov. 20 speech.
On Wednesday, attorneys general in 16 other states joined in the lawsuit with Abbott charging Obama’s immigration action violated the U.S. Constitution’s “Take Care” clause and failed to follow the Administrative Procedure Act’s guidelines for implementing new policies, including a comment period to outline the changes’ benefits.
Abbott said in a statement the president “is abdicating his responsibility to faithfully enforce laws that were duly enacted by Congress and attempting to rewrite immigration laws, which he has no authority to do – something the president himself has previously admitted.”
Abbott’s press office referred WND to the complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas asking for declaratory and injunctive relief.
The complaint states: “The President’s new policies were effectuated through Defendant Johnson’s DHS Directive.”
If confirms WND’s report that the only Obama administration document relevant to the plan Obama announced Nov. 20 is a DHS memorandum signed by Johnson titled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children with Respect to Certain Individuals Who Are the Parents of U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents.”
Abbott’s complaint further indicated the only basis for the DHS memo directing the change in the operation of the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program was not a presidential executive order but a legal opinion written by the principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, Karl R. Thompson, to advise Johnson and White House counsel.
The principal argument in Abbott’s complaint is that the DHS directive violates the president’s constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” as set forth by the U.S. Constitution in Article II, Section 3, Clause 5.
“The Take Care Clause limits the President’s power and ensures that he will faithfully execute Congress’s laws – not rewrite them under the guise of executive ‘discretion,’” Abbott’s complaint stated in the first count.
The second count further confirmed WND’s reporting that Johnson’s Nov. 20 memorandum has not been filed in the Federal Register, which means it has not been available for public comment as required by federal law for federal administrative agencies seeking to engage in rulemaking.
“The Defendants promulgated and relied upon the DHS Directive without authority and without notice-and-comment rulemaking,” Abbott’s complaint specified in Count Two. “It is therefore unlawful.”
The “Guide to the Federal Rulemaking Process” published by the Office of the Federal Register specifies agencies “get their authority to issue regulations from laws (statutes) enacted by Congress.”
In an interview with WND Wednesday, Tom Fitton, president of Washington-based watchdog Judicial Watch, said the legal status of Johnson’s memo is a serious constitutional question that deserves to be adjudicated.
He said Obama’s “entire implementing authority” regarding the immigration action is Johnson’s memo, “which changes the immigration law, directing federal money to be spent that has not been appropriated by Congress.”
“In my view, there is a serious question whether Jeh Johnson should be impeached for taking this action, and a criminal investigation should be initiated to determine how and why federal funds are being misappropriated,” he declared.
How did everyone get it wrong?
How then did the White House manage to convince the mainstream media, Congress and the nation that Obama had signed in Las Vegas two executive orders to implement the immigration actions he announced in his Nov. 20 speech from the White House?
On Nov. 20 at approximately 6 p.m., the White House press office released a “Fact Sheet” titled “Immigration Accountability Executive Action.”
The first sentence read: “The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will help secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable, and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules. Acting within his legal authority, the President is taking an important step to fix our broken immigration system.”
The second sentence stated: “These executive actions crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.”
While neither sentence claimed Obama was about to sign an implementing executive order, both conveyed the impression “executive actions” would be taken to somehow legitimate the status of some 5 million illegal immigrants currently in the country.
In his Nov. 20 speech, Obama said: “Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President – the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me – that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just. Tonight, I am announcing those actions.”
The next day, the White House press office issued a “travel pool report” documenting that at about 12:15 p.m. local time in Las Vegas, shortly after landing and still aboard Air Force One, President Obama “signed two memoranda associated with his executive actions on immigration,” giving the impression the documents were orders to implement the changes in policy the president had specified in his speech.
The pool report said only still photographers were invited to record the signing, with no pool reporters allowed to be present or to answer questions.
Upon landing in Las Vegas, the White House press office released a statement saying, “Today aboard Air Force One the president signed two Presidential Memoranda associated with his executive actions.”
The White House press office did properly identify the contents of the two presidential memoranda, but no White House reporter at the time observed that they had nothing to do with modifying prosecution under DACA but dealt instead with unrelated immigration matters.
In his Las Vegas speech at Del Sol High School, Obama said: “We’re going to keep on working with members of Congress to make permanent reform a reality. But until that day comes, there are actions that I have the legal authority to take that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just. And this morning, I began to take some of those actions.”