Last week, the Obama Administration surprisingly announced a new immigration policy that effectively circumvents Congress’ legislative authority in order to extend amnesty to thousands of illegal immigrants. Although Congress has rejected time and again amnesty legislation, this policy will allow some illegal immigrants to stay and work in the United States by administrative fiat.
Under this new decision, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security officials will choose to allow some illegal immigrants currently involved in deportation cases to remain in the US. The administration plans to review 300,000 cases and waive the deportation of some individuals who have clean or minor criminal records beyond their illegal immigration status.
This new policy is an unacceptable abuse of presidential power, and it is an extension of this administration’s contempt for our immigration laws.
Last year, Congress rejected legislation that would have extended amnesty to certain illegal immigrants, many of whom fit the same profile of this waiver. With this announcement, President Obama clearly indicated that he is willing to ignore Congressional legislative action to achieve his own agenda.
According to ICE Director John Morton, “One of ICE's central responsibilities is to enforce the nation's civil immigration laws.” But intentionally excusing illegal immigration for some individuals does the opposite: this decision ignores our immigration laws.
Immigrants whose cases are waived could also be offered the opportunity to apply for a visa or work permit and remain working in the United States.
With 9 percent unemployment and millions still looking for work, this immigration plan seems to prioritize allowing illegal immigrants the opportunity to stay and work here. This is an affront to Americans and legal immigrants who are counting on this president to focus on growing the economy and help employers create much-needed jobs.
Additionally alarming is the broad discretion given to bureaucrats when deciding which deportation cases should be waived. Based on a variety of vague factors, officials reviewing a case can decide whether to cancel the deportation proceedings.
Consider the hundreds and thousands of individuals who wait in line — often for many years — for the opportunity to immigrate to America. Now, the President has decided to move some individuals, who have already broken our immigration laws, to the front of the line.
This is unfair and unwise policy. It signals that our immigration laws are to be ignored, and we have given up attempting to enforce them. The policy undermines the rule of law, is a blatant disregard for the constitutional separation of powers, and in effect, rewards lawbreakers.
As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I have worked to secure our nation’s borders and hold both this and previous administrations accountable for their actions on immigration. We are a country of immigrants, and we are a nation of laws. It is the president’s constitutional responsibility to see that his administration enforces these laws.