TIME Opinion

Is Obama Overreaching on Immigration? Lincoln and FDR Would Say ‘No’

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama announces executive actions on immigration during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 20, 2014 Jim Bourg—AP

Like Lincoln and Roosevelt before him, Obama occupies the White House in a time of great crisis

Last night, President Obama announced new steps that will allow about five million undocumented immigrants to obtain work permits and feel free of imminent deportation. Given that we now have an estimated 10–11 million such people within our nation and that many of them clearly will never leave, this seems a reasonable first step towards giving them all some kind of legal status. But, because of the anti-immigration stance of the Republican Party, which will entirely control Congress starting on Jan. 3, the President will have to base this step solely on executive power. And even before the President spoke, various Republicans had accused him of acting like an emperor or a monarch and warning of anarchy and violence if he goes through with his plans.

There are, in fact, substantial legal and historical precedents, including a recent Supreme Court decision, that suggest that Obama’s planned actions would be neither unprecedented nor illegal. This is of course the President’s own position, that no extraordinary explanation is needed—yet we can also put his plans in the broader context of emergency presidential powers, which in fact have a rich history in times of crisis in the United States. It is not accidental that this issue of Presidential power is arising now, because it will inevitably arise—as the founders anticipated—any time a crisis has made it unusually difficult to govern the United States. Like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, Obama occupies the White House in a time of great crisis, and therefore finds it necessary to take controversial steps.

The Founding Fathers distrusted executive authority, of course, because they had fought a revolution in the previous decade against the arbitrary authority of King George III. But, on the other hand, they had come to Philadelphia in 1787 because their current government, the early version of the U.S. system established by the Articles of Confederation, was so weak that the new nation was sinking into anarchy. So they created a strong executive and a much more powerful central government than the Articles of Confederation had allowed for—and having lived through a revolution, they also understood that governments simply had to exercise exceptional powers in times of emergency.

They made one explicit reference to an emergency power, authorizing the federal government to suspend the right of habeas corpus—freedom from arbitrary arrest—”in cases of rebellion or invasion [when] the public safety may require it.” Nearly 80 years later, when the southern states had denied the authority of the federal government, Abraham Lincoln used this provision to lock up southern sympathizers in the North, and eventually secured the assent of Congress to this measure. He also used traditional powers of a government at war—including the confiscation of enemy property—to emancipate the slaves within the Confederacy in late 1862. With the help of these measures, the North won the war and the Union survived—apparently exactly what the Founders had intended.

When Franklin Roosevelt took the oath of office in the midst of a virtual economic collapse in March of 1933, he not only declared that the nation had “nothing to fear but fear itself,” but also made clear that he would take emergency measures on his own if Congress did not go along. That spring, the country was treated to a remarkable movie, Gabriel Over the White House, in which the President did exactly that—but as it turned out, the Congress was more than happy to go along with Roosevelt’s initial measures. It wasn’t until his second term that Congress turned against him; he, like Obama, used executive authority to find new means of fighting the Depression. In wartime he also claimed and exercised new emergency powers in several ways, including interning Japanese-Americans, this time without a formal suspension of habeas corpus. In retrospect both a majority of Americans and the courts have decided that some of these measures, especially the internment, were unjust and excessive, but the mass of the people accepted them in the midst of a great war as necessary to save the country, preferring to make amends later on. Though opponents continually characterized both Lincoln and FDR as monarchs and dictators trampling on the Constitution, those are judgments which history, for the most part, has not endorsed.

As the late William Strauss and Neil Howe first pointed out about 20 years ago in their remarkable books, Generations and The Fourth Turning, these first three great crises in our national life—the Revolutionary and Constitutional period, the Civil War, and the Depression and the Second World War—came at regular intervals of about 80 years. Sure enough, just as they had predicted, the fourth such great crisis came along in 2001 as a result of 9/11. President Bush immediately secured from Congress the sweeping authority to wage war almost anywhere, and claimed emergency powers to detain suspected terrorists at Guantanamo. (Some of those powers the Supreme Court eventually refused to recognize.) The war against terror was, however, only one aspect of this crisis. The other is the splintering of the nation, once again, into two camps with largely irreconcilable world views, a split that has paralyzed our government to an extent literally never before seen for such a long period. Immigration is only one of several problems—including climate change, inequality and employment—that the government has not been able to address by traditional means because the Republican Party has refused to accept anything President Obama wants to do.

The Founders evidently understood that when the survival of the state is threatened, emergency measures are called for. We are not yet so threatened as we were in the three earlier crises, but our government is effectively paralyzed. Under the circumstances it seems to me that the President has both a right and a duty to use whatever authority he can find to solve pressing national problems. Congressional obstructionism does not relieve him of his own responsibilities to the electorate.

David Kaiser, a historian, has taught at Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Williams College, and the Naval War College. He is the author of seven books, including, most recently, No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War. He lives in Watertown, Mass.

TIME politics

Prop. 8 Plaintiffs: Charles Manson Can Get Married, But We Still Can’t

Charles Manson and friends
From Left: Afton Elaine Burton and Charles Manson, imprisoned for life for association with a series of murders in the 1960s in Corcoran, Calif. on Aug. 14, 2011. Manson Direct/Polaris

Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami were plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court decision in the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8 in California.

By not ruling on marriage equality, murderers are afforded more fairness and dignity than our LGBT brothers and sisters

When the news broke that Charles Manson had obtained a marriage license while serving out his life sentence in a California prison, we were mad. Really mad. This man was sentenced to death—a sentence later commuted to life in prison—after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit mass murder. The Supreme Court has told him that his right to marry is federally protected. That same court has yet to affirm that same right for the LGBT community. The only thing we are guilty of is falling in love with a member of the same sex.

So while Manson and his bride-to-be make their wedding plans, thousands upon thousands of LGBT couples in 15 states, which accounts for nearly 30% of the U.S. population, are left at the altar. Opponents of marriage equality surely can’t say that Manson is more worthy of the right to marry than the couples in these states, can they? Would Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins rather have a dinner in our loving home or in the jailhouse cafeteria with a man who has no regard for human life? Would Cardinal Timothy Dolan prefer Manson and his “Helter Skelter” cult to the God and churches that many good and decent LGBT couples pray at and want to be married in? Would National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown prefer the sanctity of this sham Manson marriage–to a woman he is not even permitted to have a child with–over the marriage of loving and committed gay couples who are already raising children?

Our society is affording prison inmates more fairness and dignity than that of our LGBT brothers and sisters. Ted Olson and David Boies, who were our attorneys in the Prop 8 case, underscored this dichotomy to Chief Judge Vaughn Walker in court when fighting for our right to marry. Frankly, we don’t care if Manson gets married. It’s his right. Good for him. What we can’t stand by and tolerate is inaction by the Supreme Court on this issue. The piecemeal approach with which the Court has “ruled” in favor of marriage equality–by not ruling on the issue–is not nearly enough. Now that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the right for states within its jurisdiction to discriminate against its LGBT citizens by preventing them to marry the person they love, the Supreme Court must agree to hear one or all of the cases and do the right thing. You did it for Manson and now the prison has assigned him a wedding coordinator. We plan great weddings. What about us?

Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami were plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court decision in the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8 in California.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME health

New Global Study Calls Violence Against Women ‘Epidemic’

A Pokot woman holds a razor blade after performing a circumcision on four girls in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, Kenya, Oct. 16, 2014.
A Pokot woman holds a razor blade after performing a circumcision on four girls in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, Kenya, Oct. 16, 2014. Siegfried Modola—Reuters

Governments need to step up their game to protect women, says extensive new research

When it comes to stopping violence against women, actions speak louder than words. So even though there’s increased worldwide awareness about violence against women, the problem won’t be solved unless countries make significant policy and financial changes to support victims, according to a five-part series of studies in The Lancet, one of the world’s premier medical journals.

The series, entitled “Violence Against Women and Girls,” calls the violence a “global public health and clinical problem of epidemic proportions,” and the statistics are bleak. 100-140 million women have undergone female genital mutilation worldwide, and 3 million African girls per year are at risk. 7% of women will be sexually assaulted by someone besides their partner in their lifetimes. Almost 70 million girls worldwide have been married before they turned 18. According to WHO estimates, 30% of women worldwide have experienced partner violence. The researchers said that these problems could only be solved with political action and increased funding, since the violence has continued “despite increased global attention,” implying awareness is not enough.

“No magic wand will eliminate violence against women and girls,” series co-lead Charlotte Watts, founding Director of the Gender Violence and Health Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a statement. “But evidence tells us that changes in attitudes and behavior are possible, and can be achieved within less than a generation.”

One of the major problems highlighted in the Lancet series is that much of the current research on violence against women has been conducted in high-income countries, and it’s mostly been focused on response instead of prevention. The study found that the key driver of violence in most middle-and-low income countries is gender inequality, and that it would be near impossible to prevent abuse without addressing the underlying political, economic, and educational marginalization of women.

The study also found that health workers are often uniquely positioned to help victims, since they’re often the first to know about the abuse.

“Health-care providers are often the first point of contact for women and girls experiencing violence,” says another series co-lead, Dr. Claudia Garcia-Moreno, a physician at the WHO, in a statement. “The health community is missing important opportunities to integrate violence programming meaningfully into public health initiatives on HIV/AIDS, adolescent health, maternal health, and mental health.”

The series makes five concrete recommendations to curb the violence against women. The authors urge nations to allocate resources to prioritize protecting victims, change structures and policies that discriminate against women, promote support for survivors, strengthen health and education sectors to prevent and respond to violence, and invest in more research into ways to address the problem. In other words: money, education, and political action are key to protecting the world’s most vulnerable women. Hashtag activism, celebrity songs, and stern PSAs are helpful, but this problem is too complicated to be solved by awareness alone.

“We now have some promising findings to show what works to prevent violence,” said Dr. Cathy Zimmerman from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “We urgently need to turn this evidence into genuine action so that women and girls can live violence-free lives.”

The study comes just in time for the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on Nov. 25.

TIME politics

Biden Will Push Turkey to Step Up Role in Fight Against ISIS

Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani, following airstrikes by the US led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, Nov. 17, 2014.
Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani, following airstrikes by the US led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, Nov. 17, 2014. Vadim Ghirda—AP

Biden is the latest U.S. official to meet with Erdogan as divide between the coalition and Turkey grows

ISTANBUL — Vice President Joe Biden on Friday will become the latest in a parade of U.S. officials trying to push Turkey to step up its role in the international coalition’s fight against Islamic State extremists.

His visit comes after weeks of public bickering between the two NATO allies. The Turkish president insists that if the U.S. wants his help, it must focus less on fighting IS and more on toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad. Erdogan wants the U.S.-led coalition to set up a security zone in northern Syria to give moderate fighters a place to recoup and launch attacks.

The U.S. has no appetite to go to war against Assad and has said a no-fly zone against Syria’s air force is a no-go.

Turkey has pledged to train and equip moderate Syrian forces on its soil, but no details have been announced by either side. U.S. and Turkish officials have discussed the coalition’s desire to use Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base for U.S.-led operations against IS militants, but Turkey has made no public decision about Incirlik.

“From the no-fly zone to the safety zone and training and equipping — all these steps have to be taken now,” Erdogan said on Wednesday. Then he echoed the same line he’s been saying all along: “The coalition forces have not taken those steps we asked them for. … Turkey’s position will be the same as it is now.”

That’s after a U.S. military delegation spent two days in Ankara last week trying to hammer out details to implement Turkey’s pledge to train and equip moderate fighters. That’s after top U.S. military officials visited Incirlik in the past few weeks. And it follows two visits in two months by retired Marine Gen. John Allen, the U.S. envoy for the international coalition.

Allen told the Turkish daily Milliyet on Wednesday in Ankara that fighting extremists in Iraq was the “main effort” right now, but that’s not the only effort and “we’ll be doing that in Syria as well.”

“Eventually, of course, our policy intent for the U.S. is that there be a political outcome in Syria that does not include Bashar Assad,” said Allen, who left Turkey for NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Now it’s Biden’s turn.

He plans a dinner meeting Friday with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. On Saturday, Biden is to have an extended meeting with Erdogan, and plans to fly back to Washington on Sunday.

The obvious compromise would be if Washington shifted its policy on Syria to do more to force out Assad, and Turkey agreed to do more against IS, said James Jeffrey, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Iraq who is now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Jeffrey is not holding his breath.

“Erdogan is a tough customer to reason with, but Turkey is already a major source of stability and support in region and could be better if we play cards right,” Jeffrey said. “But Erdogan is, at this point, troublingly unpredictable.”

Turkish officials say Turkey is an active partner in the coalition.

Besides pledging to train moderate Syrian forces, Turkey gave Kurdish fighters from Iraq permission to traverse its soil on their way to help Kurdish fighters in the besieged Syrian town of Kobani near Turkey’s border. That was an unprecedented step for Erdogan, but Turkey’s military has been inactive regarding the IS advance on the town.

Turkey has good relations with the Kurds in Iraq, but it views the Kurds in Syria as an extension of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party. The party has waged a 30-year insurgency against the Turkish government and is designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. and NATO. Asked if more Kurdish fighters from Iraq would be moving through Turkey, a Turkish official said: “Yes, we might see them again.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about Turkey’s policy on Syria.

Turkey also is hosting 1.6 million Syrian refugees. Washington acknowledges that Ankara has worked to stem the flow of foreign fighters into Syria, although it’s still easy in some places to move across for a price. U.S. officials also say Turkey has cracked down on oil smugglers. Analysts estimate that IS earns up to $3 million a day in revenue from oil fields captured in Iraq and Syria.

Still, the U.S. and Turkey are not in sync about Syria, and Biden’s visit follows weeks of misunderstandings and harsh rhetoric emanating from both capitals.

Locals in Istanbul have dubbed one flap the “apology-no apology,” which began over something Biden said in a speech at Harvard University.

Biden said that early in the Syrian conflict, Turkey assisted extremists because they were seeking to depose Assad. Erdogan demanded an apology; the White House said Biden called Erdogan to apologize, but Biden said he didn’t.

There was more disagreement over whether Turkey had decided to let the U.S. use Incirlik base for operations against extremists in Syria and Iraq.

Aggravating the tension was an incident last week in Istanbul where three American sailors from the USS Ross were roughed up by anti-American demonstrators.

TIME curiosities

Partying Politics: LIFE Goes to a Republican Women’s Bacchanal

Recalling the night when the Young Women's Republican Club of Milford, Conn., discovered the pleasures of tobacco, poker … and strip tease

“On the evening of May 20,” begins an article in the June 16, 1941, issue of LIFE magazine, “members of the Young Women’s Republican Club of Milford, Conn., explored the pleasures of tobacco, poker, the strip tease and such other masculine enjoyments as had frequently cost them the evening companionship of husbands, sons and brothers.”

Thus the storied weekly and photographer Nina Leen chronicled the shenanigans that erupted when a group of GOP women got together for an old-fashioned “smoker” (noun: an informal social gathering for men only) on one long, memorable night in southern New England.

[See more from LIFE]

TIME faith

Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration Will Tear Us Apart

US-POLITICS-IMMIGRATION-OBAMA
President Barack Obama meets with business leaders on immigration reform on June 24, 2013 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN—AFP/Getty Images

Russell Moore is President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Acting unilaterally threatens an emerging consensus

I disagree with President Barack Obama’s decision to act unilaterally on immigration policy. I am for immigration reform, for all sorts of reasons that I have outlined elsewhere. The system we have is incoherent and unjust. I have worked hard to try to see the system changed, and will continue to do so. It’s because of my support for immigrants and for immigration reform that I think President Obama’s executive actions are the wrong way to go.

On more than one occasion, I asked President Obama not to turn immigration reform into a red state/blue state issue. People across the political spectrum support fixing this system, and it shouldn’t be a partisan wedge issue. I also asked him not to act unilaterally, but to work for consensus through the legislative process. To his credit, he did just that for a long while, and the Republican Congress took no action. He also told me, and others, that his patience was not endless on this.

Now the President says that he is out of patience and that he will use executive authority to achieve some of the goals of immigration reform. We can debate whether the President has the authority to undertake these actions unilaterally, but, regardless, this is an unwise and counterproductive move.

Yes, the Republican House has done nothing—up to this point. I am as frustrated with that as anyone. But as we all know, there is a new reality in Washington, with Republicans now the majority in both houses of Congress. The Republicans have said that they want to demonstrate that they can govern, and that they want to find areas where they can work together with the White House. Why not give them the opportunity to do so?

Over the past several years, a remarkable consensus has emerged on immigration reform, uniting the left, right and center. I am often in meetings in which those of us at the table can agree on almost literally nothing else. The business community, agriculture, law enforcement, religious constituencies and immigrant advocacy groups have come to this question with unique but overlapping points of concern. There are few Americans who think the system works as it is, and there is little support for deporting 11 million people from this country. This consensus is one to cultivate, not to tear apart.

Acting unilaterally threatens that consensus, and is the wrong thing to do. Even those who support broad executive action (including many friends of mine) acknowledge that the actions won’t solve the problem, only a legislative solution will. My hope is that the Republicans in Congress will not allow the President’s actions here to be a pretext for remaning in the rut of the status quo. Too many people are harmed by this broken system, many of them our brothers and sisters in Christ. The lives of immigrant families, made in the image of God, are too important for political gamesmanship.

More importantly, I pray that our churches will transcend all of this posing and maneuvering that we see in Washington. Whatever our agreements and disagreements on immigration policy, we as the Body of Christ are those who see every human life as reflecting the image of God. Immigrant communities are a great blessing not only to this country, but to our churches. Many of the most anointed churches in evangelism and ministry are led by immigrants to this country.

Whatever our political disagreements, we ought to continue to stand with them, and to see to it that the immigrants among us are welcomed and loved. Whatever happens in the White House, our churches must press on with ministry and mission.

Russell Moore is President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral concerns and public policy entity of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. Prior to his election in 2013, Moore served as provost and dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also taught theology and ethics. Moore is the author of several books, includingAdopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches and Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ. A native Mississippian, he and his wife Maria are the parents of five sons.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

Tackling Immigration Alone

Joe Klein is TIME's political columnist and author of six books, most recently Politics Lost. His weekly TIME column, "In the Arena," covers national and international affairs.

The President has good reason to bypass Congress. But he’ll pay a price

Can the president of the United States, wielding a magic pen, simply exempt approximately 5 million illegal immigrants from the threat of deportation? You bet he can. He has the power to set law-enforcement priorities. In 2012, Barack Obama ordered that children brought across the border by their parents and raised in the U.S.–the so-called Dream Generation–should not be targeted for deportation. He can expand that ruling to their parents and others. Both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush took similar actions on a smaller scale. The question is, why on earth would the President want to do it now, after the disastrous election of 2014? Newly minted Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said it would be like “waving a red flag in front of a bull,” which may have been more artful than literal. McConnell also said that he wouldn’t shut down the government (nor will the Republican leadership move toward impeachment). The President may have simply calculated that signing his executive actions would be more like waving a tissue in front of a goat.

It is not impossible that Obama is playing some hard-nosed politics here, even if his primary motivation is soft-nosed and idealistic. It is simple humanitarian justice not to separate families by deporting the parents of the Dream Generation. If John Boehner had brought last year’s bipartisan Senate immigration bill to a vote in the House, the situation might have been happily resolved. “But it’s like waiting for a bus that never comes,” says David Axelrod, a former Obama aide. The Republican definition of immigration reform is unacceptable to most Democrats. It consists of more money for border security and a fast track for skilled foreigners who want to immigrate; it does not include a path to legality for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already here. Obama no doubt calculated that negotiations with the GOP on this issue were futile. On top of that, the President may not be too pleased with the members of his inner circle who told him to delay his executive actions last summer for “political” reasons, as he so awkwardly put it–that is, to save some Democratic Senate candidates who ultimately could not be saved. This President does not like to come off as tawdry or political. A quick executive move now is a way to rectify the games he’s played with Latinos.

But it also may be effective politics. In the long term, every time the Republicans start screaming and stomping about illegal Mexicans, it cements the Latino relationship with the Democratic Party, a demographic boon. There will certainly be a lot of screaming when Obama goes ahead with his plan–and then we will celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, a traditionally fallow political period, and the immigration issue will be ancient history by the time McConnell convenes his Republican-majority Senate in January. Hence, another calculation: Despite the immigration order, the Republicans will still want to do business with the President. They will want to demonstrate that gridlock was all Harry Reid’s fault. The Republican Senators up for re-election in 2016 will need some bacon to bring home. There are trade bills that Republicans will certainly want to pass, and infrastructure bills, and perhaps even some tax reform. Obama will share the credit for those middling triumphs, and he’ll seem tough besides, having blasted through the “red flag” and gotten stuff done.

But there will be consequences. By moving ahead with the immigration plan, Obama sacrifices any leeway he might have had with Republicans on a range of more difficult issues. He was going to have a tough time selling an Iran nuclear deal–if there is such a deal–to Congress, but it could become impossible now. There will be all sorts of Obamacare challenges, some of which might have been avoided if the President had not pierced the illusion of comity. Democrats will argue that Obama was played for a sucker every time he anticipated the possibility of Republican compromise, and there is a lot to that. But that may well have been the last war. The coming legislative battles could be more subtle and pliable.

“He may be trying to goad us into doing something stupid” like shutting down the government or moving toward impeachment, says Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander. “But that’s not going to happen.” Indeed, Republicans have been talking in more surgical fiscal terms–defunding specific programs, like those that would implement the executive actions, rather than a wholesale shutdown. Worse, Obama’s immigration actions, noble as they might be, fly in the face of the national mood. At a moment when the public desperately wants some sort of reconciliation, he is sticking a finger in McConnell’s eye. After playing the reasonable grownup for the first six years of his presidency, he is giving up the high ground.

TO READ JOE’S BLOG POSTS, GO TO time.com/swampland

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

A Constitutional Moment

The Founding Fathers were clear about who sets immigration policy

The coming clash between President Obama and Congress over immigration promises to light up what I like to call a constitutional moment. This is a moment in which our politics are so divided that we have scraped away the soil of legislation and are fighting on American bedrock. Rarely has it shone more clearly than in respect of who has the power to decide who can come here and be naturalized as a citizen.

This is one of the reasons we seceded from Great Britain. King George III had been interfering with immigration to the colonies. It was one of the complaints enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. The British tyrant, the Americans declared, had endeavored “to prevent the Population of these States.” For that purpose, they said, George III had been not only “obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners” but also “refusing” laws “to encourage their Migrations hither.”

The articles of confederation that first bound the newly independent states failed to solve this problem. Each state set its own policy on naturalization, with the potential for chaos. Hence the founders, who gathered in 1787 in Philadelphia to write the Constitution, granted to Congress the power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” They could have granted this to the President or left it to the states, but they assigned it instead to Congress.

So Obama, in threatening to act on his own, is playing with constitutional fire. It’s not that I object to his liberality on immigration. On the contrary, for years I was part of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. It reckons that it would be illogical to stand for the free movement of trade and capital absent the free movement of labor. It once called for a constitutional amendment saying “there shall be open borders.”

That is based on the idea of human capital, the notion that in a system of democratic capitalism people have an incentive to produce more than they themselves consume. This system discovers that more people lead to a richer society for all. In my generation, this point animated the campaign for America to take in the boat people escaping Vietnam after the communist conquest. What a windfall they turned out to be.

I have also long plumped for a merger of pro-immigration activists and pro-life conservatives. A movement that cherishes pro-life principles contradicts itself when it emerges against immigration. Better to press consistently for the idea that more people are better, particularly in a country as underpopulated as the U.S., which ranks near the bottom of the world’s nations in population density.

All that, though, is trumped by the constitution. It not only seats naturalization power in Congress but also gives it almost total sway. The founders discussed adding language relating to how long someone must reside in America before becoming a citizen. In the end they required of Congress only that its rule be “uniform.” They didn’t want the states feuding over this and setting competing policies. They wanted a united front to the world.

Nor, the record suggests, did they want the President setting policies on immigration and naturalization. There may be talk about Obama having presidential “discretion” in enforcing immigration laws, but the record of the Constitutional Convention makes clear where the founders wanted discretion to lie. “The right of determining the rule of naturalization will then leave a discretion to the legislature,” James Madison quotes Alexander Hamilton as saying.

Madison followed by remarking that he “wished to maintain the character of liberality” that had been “professed” throughout the states. He was not for open immigration. He “wished to invite foreigners of merit and republican principles among us.” He noted that “America was indebted to emigration for her settlement and prosperity” and added, “That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture, and the arts.”

The Founding Fathers were not naive. They worried plenty about intrigue by what Madison, at one point, called “men with foreign predilections” who might “obtain appointments” or even seek public office. One can imagine that they would be horrified by the loss of control of the southern border, the lawlessness, the abuse of welfare and the scent of rebellion north of the Rio Grande. But the founders also feared a King–or a President who acted like one. They wanted the question of immigration settled by Congress and wrote an impeachment clause that glints in the fray.

Lipsky is the editor of the New York Sun

SOURCE: The Writings of James Madison, Volume IV

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

The Politics of the Keystone XL Pipeline in 3 Stories

House Votes On Full Passage Of Keystone Pipeline
Members walk down the steps of the House side of the US Capitol after voting on the Kyestone XL Pipeline, Nov. 14, 2014. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

The controversy around the project is not just a matter of environmental impact

On Friday, as the House voted to approve a proposal for the long-debated Keystone Pipeline, we rounded up TIME’s past coverage of the environmental questions behind the controversial pipeline — but, with the Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on their own version of the proposal, it’s clear that the environmental impact isn’t the only factor influencing decision-making.

As these three stories make clear, the politics are nearly as complex as the science:

July 22, 2013: Beyond the Keystone Pipeline

Michael Grunwald posits that the energy agenda could be a big part of President Obama’s legacy, and that there are reasons beyond the climate why he might want to veto the pipeline even if the legislature approves it, as has been suggested he will:

It’s true that Keystone isn’t the ideal battleground for the fight against global warming. The Canadian tar-sand glop that Big Oil hopes to send to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico might come out of the ground even if the pipeline is rejected. Oil isn’t quite as awful as coal, and its competitors aren’t yet as viable as coal’s. But the Montgomery, Ala., bus system wasn’t the ideal battleground, either; it was just where Rosa Parks decided to fight. Presidents don’t get to choose what activists care about. Presidents just get to choose sides. “After all he’s done on climate, I just can’t imagine that he’d approve this,” says Tom Steyer, a billionaire Obama donor who is bankrolling a crusade against the pipeline. “It would be so disappointing to his supporters. Such a self-inflicted wound.”

Nov. 13, 2014: The Politics Behind Mary Landrieu’s Pipeline Power Play

Alex Rogers analyzes Senator Mary Landrieu’s call for the Senate to bring the matter to a vote:

The frantic maneuvering started Wednesday morning when Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell promised [Landrieu's challenger Bill] Cassidy a spot on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee if Cassidy beats Landrieu in the December runoff. Landrieu chairs the committee and has touted her tenure there as a symbol of her influence on Capitol Hill.

Nov. 13, 2014: GOP Prepares for an Energy Battle

Denver Nicks takes a look at broader feelings about energy and the environment among the Republican leadership, revealing that the pipeline is just the beginning:

Near the top of [Mitch McConnell's] to-do list is bringing the Keystone XL pipeline to a vote. Climate activists have made a priority of killing the proposed pipeline from oil sands in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, but it may soon become their Alamo. With the cooperation of a handful of centrist Democrats, the GOP could have a filibuster-proof majority on the question, forcing President Obama to approve or veto the project. Either way, he will be forced to show his hand on a question about which he’s been coy to date.

TIME Britain

Watch as the Man Who Wants to Be Britain’s Next Prime Minister is Taken Down by a Former Pop Singer

Myleene Klass attacked Ed Milliband over policy for a new tax on properties worth more than $3 million

Ed Miliband, the beleaguered leader of Britain’s opposition party Labour, was taken down on Monday night by a surprising foe: former UK pop star and television presenter Myleene Klass.

The clash took place on the UK panel show The Agenda, where both Miliband, who hopes to be voted in as Britain’s next prime minister in next year’s election, and Klass appeared as guests. Klass wasted no time in taking Miliband to task for his party’s proposed tax on homes worth £2 million ($3.1 million) or more — widely known as the “mansion tax” — in order to put more funds into the country’s National Health Service (NHS).

“For me, it’s so disturbing – the name in its own right: ‘mansion tax’” said Klass, who rose to fame in the early aughts, when she took part in Simon Cowell’s reality TV show Popstars. “When you do look at the people who will be suffering this tax, it’s true a lot of them are grannies who have had these houses in their families for a long, long time. The people who are the super, super rich buying their houses for £140 million, this is not necessarily going to affect them because they’ve got their tax rebates and amazing accountants. It’s going to be the little grannies who have lived in those houses for years and years.”

For his part, Miliband seemed unprepared for the attack, in spite of recent criticism in the UK press and rumors of backlash from within his own party. He responded to the criticism by noting, “I totally understand that people don’t like paying more in tax. The values of my government are going to be different to the values of this [current Conservative] government.”

Yet Klass continued to grill the politician on precise figures, while questioning whether the tax would actually help improve national health care.

“You may as well just tax me on this glass of water. You can’t just point at things and tax them,” she said.

Many people watching the interview took to social media to comment on Miliband’s weak defense:

 

 

 

 

Of course, there were also viewers who were turned off by Klass — who has an estimated net worth of £11 million ($17.2 million) — arguing that a tax on millionaires would cause suffering:

 

 

 

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