For proponents of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy, it’s become easy to draw parallels to similar actions taken by several modern presidents from both parties.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), however, has a very different kind of comparison in mind.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) likened President Barack Obama’s decision to take executive action on immigration to then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order authorizing putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II.Paul made the comments on Friday, a day after Obama formally announced the executive actions, at the Kentucky Association of Counties conference in Lexington, Kentucky.
In his remarks, the Republican senator said, “I care that too much power gets in one place. Why? Because there are instances in our history where we allow power to gravitate toward one person and that one person then makes decisions that really are egregious. Think of what happened in World War II where they made the decision. The president issued an executive order. He said to Japanese people, ‘We’re going to put you in a camp. We’re going to take away all your rights and liberties and we’re going to intern you in a camp.’ We shouldn’t allow that much power to gravitate to one individual.”
The problem with the comparison, whether Paul appreciates this or not, is that by his reasoning, practically all executive actions taken by any president on any issue are the first step on the road to internment camps.
Indeed, it’s quite possible the senator actually believes this. Paul said in September that he supported repeal of every executive order ever issued, which would include policies created by George Washington. Apparently, the Kentucky Republican’s hostility towards executive power really is that strong.
As for the argument that leaving important policy decisions in the hands of one individual is dangerous, Kevin Drum made a very smart observation:
The Constitution is clear that each house of Congress makes its own rules. The rules of the House of Representatives are clear and well-established. And past speakers of the House have all used their legislative authority to prevent votes on bills they don’t wish to consider. Both the law and past precedent are clear: John Boehner is well within his legal rights to refuse to allow the House to vote on the immigration bill passed by the Senate in 2013.Still, his expansion of that authority makes me uneasy. After all, this is a case where poll after poll shows that large majorities of the country favor comprehensive immigration reform. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill over a year ago by a wide margin. And there’s little question that the Senate bill has majority support in the House too. So not only is the will of Congress clear, but the president has also made it clear that he’d sign the bill if Congress passed it. The only thing stopping it is one man.
And as one concerned observer put it, “I care that too much power gets in one place.”