Some bureaucrats could end up in prison for implementing President Obama’s amnesty plan for illegal aliens. Even if they don’t violate the brand-new court injunction, they are accountable under a special federal statute.It’s illegal to spend federal money on purposes never approved by Congress. Yet Mr. Obama has bureaucrats going full-speed ahead to create the mechanism that would process amnesty for millions, even while a court injunction requires that actual processing cannot yet begin.Preparations are proceeding “full-throttle,” according to Judicial Watch, which works to make government accountable. The group has uncovered details about some of the tens of millions of dollars already being spent to launch Mr. Obama’s amnesty plan and called for a full investigation. Billions more in tax dollars are also on the line.However, there is personal risk for all who do Mr. Obama’s bidding rather than obey the laws that govern federal payments.Each person who violates what’s called the Anti-Deficiency Act (31 U.S. Code Sec. 1341) could be fined $5,000, sent to prison for two years, lose their job, or all of these. That law makes no exceptions for those who claim they merely obeyed orders from superiors, including the president.Mr. Obama did not personally sign an executive order to put his amnesty plan in place. Although Mr. Obama claims credit and blame, the orders technically come from a Cabinet secretary. Orders then are carried out by subordinate agency heads plus a small army of bureaucrats who process the paperwork and get checks issued.Those payments are already happening despite being spent on a program not authorized by law. Congress has never approved spending money for this purpose.While Mr. Obama avoided a personal signature on the incriminating paperwork, a multitude of clerical workers don’t have that luxury. They are risking their jobs and freedom. So is Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who issued the formal instructions to do Mr. Obama’s bidding.Carrying out illegal orders is no excuse under federal law. Because there evidently is no statute of limitations on the Anti-Deficiency Act, therefore a new president and attorney-general in 2017 could pursue criminal charges as well as firings or job disciplines against all persons who approve payments on the amnesty program. And these fall guys would likely have to pay their own legal fees.Federal Judge Andrew Hanen last week enjoined the government from launching the amnesty program. Judge Hanen’s order did not dispute Mr. Obama’s authority to avoid deportations by applying prosecutorial discretion. But the judge pointed out that Mr. Obama was creating new law by going farther, namely by issuing certifications of “lawful presence” plus work permits.Even if the executive branch had legal power to create new programs — which the judge’s order questioned — Judge Hanen ruled that it still would require months of prior public notice and comments about the details, as required by the Administrative Procedures Act.Instead, Mr. Obama had things prepared secretly in advance, then launched his blitzkrieg before opponents could learn the details. To enable processing 4 million to 5 million expected amnesty applications, since the end of November, the Department of Homeland Security:
- Has received 5,000 applications for 1,000 workers it is hiring at salaries up to $157,000 a year (One estimate says these salaries will run $50-million a year.);
- Signed a $7.8-million lease to provide them with office space in Arlington, Virginia;
- Solicited for hundreds of contractors to assist with managing the program and its data;
- Requested proposals to purchase 39-million high-tech plastic ID cards with built-in RF chips (used to create “lawful presence” and “work authorization” identity cards for millions of illegal aliens)Plus, the IRS is ready to respond to Obama’s actions by unleashing billions in federal cash payments directly to those receiving executive amnesty.The amount actually spent so far is a secret closely-guarded by the Obama team, as are projections of future expenses. A group of Republican senators on Jan. 22 sent a formal request to find out the full costs. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican; Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican; and Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, wrote the Citizenship and Immigration Services to ask for a detailed accounting.The eventual answers may reveal that a lot of federal workers are in trouble for going along with Obama’s secret and unauthorized plan.Training materials for federal workers are chock-full of warnings about not violating the Anti-Deficiency Act.For example, materials from the General Services Administration warns never to initiate any purchases or contracts without obtaining approvals that include “written assurance from responsible fiscal authority,” plus checking with their legal department and budget officers.The 2013 Fiscal Law Deskbook published by the federal Judge Advocate School advises federal workers they can only “incur … obligations for expenditures within the limits and purposes of appropriations.”The White House claims that the massive expenses of amnesty processing will be covered by fees charged to applicants, but that fails the laugh test because: 1) expenses are already massive, but zero fees have been collected to date; 2) there have been no calculations released to match expenses with fees; and 3) the Constitution forbids spending any money unless it first is approved by Congress.Mr. Obama’s disregard for the law seemingly has no limits. His publicly-stated goal is to use his last two years to determine the shape of America for the next ten years. Changing the composition of America is just part of his strategy.Smirking, Mr. Obama considers himself immune from consequences. But he can only usurp power with the assistance of others within the bureaucracy.If those now spending millions of our money without authority are punished eventually, they may finally realize that their proper loyalty is to obey the laws of our land instead of a blind loyalty to President Obama.