Heckled by activists, President Obama declared yesterday that he "just took an action to change the law" in issuing his executive actions on immigration. Many of the defenders of executive supremacy have argued that the president is only prioritizing enforcement of the laws rather than changing the laws, and many opponents of the president's actions have argued that they have crossed a line between prosecutorial discretion and the executive rewriting the laws. Inadvertently, the president seems here to be agreeing with the critics of his executive authority that he is actively changing the law.
Many of those who have criticized the Obama administration's record of minimally enforcing immigration laws have argued that an influx of illegal labor undermines the wages of the average American. A number of those critics have also worried that the president's executive actions on immigration could further harm the economic prospects of native-born Americans and legal immigrants. Peter Beinart, who has vigorously defended the president's sweeping use of executive authority, agrees that President Obama's decisions would actually harm many Americans: "Will those opportunities [for illegal immigrants affected by the president's actions] come at the expense of some other Americans, whose legal status had previously given them an economic advantage? Sure."