Rarely has a president made such a transparently political decision as President Obama did on illegal immigration.
Last week, President Obama, acting unilaterally, ordered federal law enforcement to ignore the immigrant status of individuals who were brought illegally to this country by their parents when they were under 16.
Obama's decision came as a big surprise, considering that he stated last year that he lacked the power to do what he just did.
"With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that's just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed," he said in a speech to a Hispanic civil rights group.
So what happened to change Obama's mind? Politics happened.
There's an election in November and, apparently, Obama and his political advisers have concluded that this grant of quasi-amnesty will boost Hispanic support for the president.
As politics goes, that may be correct. But as policy, Obama's decision is, as he himself stated last year, an affront to the rule of law.
His action is an end-run around the explicit constitutional authority of Congress to determine immigration policy.
Further, his decision will make it even harder for Congress to address the illegal immigration issue because Obama's action can only reinforce suspicions by some that his real policy goal is open borders and mass amnesty.
No country, however, can forfeit control of who comes and goes and expect anything but chaos.
This country is a nation of immigrants, but the levels of immigration always have been controlled. It's ebbed and flowed, based on what was in the best interests of this country, not on what people from foreign countries would prefer.
That is not to say that the individuals who will benefit from the Obama policy do not deserve sympathy. They were, after all, children when they came to this country. But their status should be addressed in a comprehensive policy that shuts down illegal border crossings first and then permits an orderly process for dealing with those who are already here.