There have been a lot of requests for President Obama to use his presidential pardon during his last few weeks in office.
It started when it was suggested that President Obama pardon Hillary Clinton, hoping that she could avoid facing a special prosecutor appointed by President-elect Trump. From there, stranger requests poured in for the pardons of Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, and famous whistleblowers Edward Snowden and
Bradley Chelsea Manning.
End-of-term clemency is not a new idea; executives at the state and federal levels have been practicing it for generations. However, pardoning the likes of Bowe Bergdahl may signal a new low in the use of the practice. Or would it?
Today, congressional Democrats are making a push for the president to pardon over 750,000 illegal immigrants. From Yahoo! News:
“More than 60 Democratic members of Congress are urging President Obama to protect the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who signed up for his deferred action program before he leaves office next month.
“You have pardoned hundreds and hundreds of people convicted for drug offenses,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said at a Wednesday press conference in Washington. “We want you to use that same pardon power for hundreds of thousands of young people who came forward because you asked them to come forward. You asked them to come forward.””
Of course, presidents don’t have the power to simply pardon illegal immigrants. Even the administration admitted as much:
“The White House has informed the Democrats that “the clemency power could not give legal status to any undocumented individual” and that only Congress has that power. Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a podcast last week that a mass pardon would not “protect a single soul from deportation.””
The move by congressional Democrats comes at a time when American voters chose a candidate who made reining in illegal immigration a cornerstone of his campaign. Of course, don’t expect Democrats to respect the American voter, let alone the rule of law. By advocating this path, Democrats are choosing to defy both.
It is unclear just how President-elect Trump will choose to deal with the undocumented immigrants currently in the country. Trump understands that policies like blanket amnesty create an incentive for illegal immigrants to break the law. However, what is clear is that American voters put their trust in President-elect Trump to solve the problem, and congressional Democrats should allow him the opportunity to do that.
[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]