For six years President Obama has failed to lead on any meaningful immigration reform. Now, following a sweeping Republican victory on Election Day and just over a month before a new Republican Senate majority will take over, President Obama has announced a blatantly unconstitutional move to grant amnesty to at least 5 million illegal immigrants by executive order.
For years, President Obama has chastised Republicans, used immigrants as props for political purposes, and time and again deflected responsibility from his own party’s failure to act on immigration reform. Keep in mind that for the first two years of Obama’s presidency, Democrats controlled the House, Senate and White House -- yet he failed to pass immigration reform.
So why the rush to grant amnesty now?
President Obama knows that in January the new Republican House and Senate plan to take action on a long term solution to our nation’s immigration problem. The plan would likely include, but not be limited to, immediately securing our southern border, developing an effective legal immigration system that meets the needs of our nation’s employers, and repealing Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which led to the humanitarian crisis at the border earlier this year.
After six years of Democrats’ inaction, President Obama doesn’t want Republicans to get even an ounce of credit for finally addressing our nation’s broken immigration system. But further, by granting mass amnesty during the lame duck right before members go home for Thanksgiving, President Obama is setting a divisive tone for the immigration battle, effectively poisoning the well for Republican-led bipartisan reform next year. This is an effort by the White House to sabotage the best shot at a long-term immigration solution since this president took office -- and all to make sure Republicans don’t receive credit.
Simply put, President Obama’s immigration strategy is all about politics and getting credit rather than about families and people. This is not what the American people deserve.
President Obama’s DACA gave us a glimpse into the problems that will arise from granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. DACA led to a mass influx of illegal immigrant children crossing the Mexican border into the U.S. who came believing they would likely be able to stay.
Between October 2013 and July 2014 more than 63,000 unaccompanied children were caught at the border. Many others tragically never made it. These children risked exploitation, kidnapping, abuse at the hands of coyotes, and even their lives to make the dangerous trek hundreds of miles through the desert terrain.
The president’s latest amnesty move signals to millions in Central and South America that U.S. laws don’t hold any real weight anymore, and if they illegally enter the U.S., they’ll likely be able to stay. This creates a dangerous environment of lawlessness and puts immigrant and American families at great risk.
Notably, the majority of Americans did not support executive action on immigration. Among Americans of Latino descent, only 43 percent supported executive amnesty, according to an NBC/WSJ poll.
Further, President Obama’s executive amnesty is an unprecedented abuse of executive power. I’d invite President Obama to refer to Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, which clearly grants the authority to make laws on naturalization to Congress, not the Executive Branch.
Granting amnesty to those who willfully broke the law makes a mockery of our legal system and encourages even more lawlessness – potentially more severe crimes than entering the U.S. illegally. It also does a disservice to those who followed the legal routes to gain entry into the country and sends the message that lawlessness will be tolerated—in fact, it will be rewarded.
The American people spoke on Election Day. The Republican victory wasn’t simply a referendum on failed Democratic policies pushed by the White House and Harry Reid -- it was also a referendum on the inability of Congress and the White House to work together to get things done.
President Obama’s decision to bypass Congress and to act unilaterally on amnesty is a slap in the face to American voters, sends the wrong signal to immigrants, and jeopardizes the first real shot at bipartisan, long-term immigration reform.
Once again, it is politics over people for this administration.
Republican Mark Meadows represents North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee.