Addressing the nation last Thursday, President Obama sought to justify his misreading of the Constitution by unilaterally granting legal protection to 5 million illegal immigrants. In this, he reminded me of what Richard Nixon told David Frost in a 1977 interview. The exchange is worth recalling:
"FROST: So what in a sense you're saying is that there are certain situations ... where the president can decide that it's in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.
NIXON: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.
FROST: By definition.
NIXON: Exactly. Exactly."
The framers of the U.S. Constitution sought to limit the power of government and expand individual liberty. President Obama sees it the other way. Whether he violated the constitutional limits of his power will be debated and possibly decided in the courts and by the new Republican majority in Congress, but there is another issue surrounding the president's amnesty order that needs addressing.
The unemployment rate among African-Americans is twice that of whites, which is why they should be outraged by the president's action. Don't African-Americans "dream" of a better life? Of course they do. Then why hasn't the president focused on repairing their families, reducing crime in cities like Chicago where he launched his political career and allowing members of his race to escape from failed public schools that are robbing them of a future?
The conservative African-American organization (yes, one exists) called "Project 21" has compiled some comments from conservative black leadership.
Joe R. Hicks is the former executive director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference chapter in Los Angeles. In response to the president's address, Hicks said: "President Obama strode into the White House promising to give the American people the audacity of hope. What we are witnessing instead, with his immigration agenda, is an audacious grab for power and an evisceration of the Constitution."
Talk radio host Stacy Washington: "Every time this country has pardoned illegal immigrants, crime and black unemployment have gone through the roof. Don't believe me? Check the statistics from Reagan's congressionally approved amnesty package. Not only did three times as many illegal immigrants as were promised become legal through the undiscovered intricacies of chain immigration, but the crime soared and black unemployment went through the roof."
To Washington's point, black unemployment, which declined during the years of George W. Bush's presidency, has increased during six years of the Obama administration, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Federal Reserve. One might reasonably expect that America's first African-American president would be more attuned to the problems of actual citizens than to noncitizens.
Charles Butler, another black conservative talk radio host, was even blunter: "President Obama will do with the stroke of a pen what 300 years of slavery, Jim Crow and legal segregation could not: destroy the hopes and dreams of millions of black Americans."
Apparently the president thinks that since he won more than 90 percent of the black vote in his two elections and the Democratic Party can count on their loyalty for the foreseeable future, he can begin "importing" new voters, who will surely be granted that right when Democrats bring up "fairness." As Rush Limbaugh noted on his show last week, if attracting new Democratic voters is not the primary motivation for amnesty, let Congress draft a bill that won't allow them to vote for 20 years and see how Democrats react.
This president has done little to improve the conditions of African-Americans, and yet they do not hold him accountable. The reason why is a mystery. Instead of planning demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, African-Americans should protest outside the White House. The president likes to call the illegals "dreamers." For millions of unemployed, underemployed and otherwise working African-Americans who have children trapped in failing schools because Democratic politicians won't let them escape, their dreams have become a nightmare.
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Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.