On Wednesday, the House of Representatives took an important first step toward protecting the interests and security of the American people, and the integrity of our constitutional system of government. The House bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the remainder of this fiscal year includes provisions prohibiting the federal government from using money appropriated or collected through fees to implement the sweeping illegal alien amnesty policies announced by President Obama in November, or to expand the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty.
It is impossible for DHS to thoroughly vet the 5 million people who are believed to be eligible to ensure that those who pose a threat to the nation do not gain legal status in this country.
- Dan Stein
Under the plan announced by the President, some 5 million illegal aliens would be allowed to live and work legally in the United States. Moreover, under accompanying memos issued by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, virtually all of the remaining illegal alien in the country would be exempted from removal.
The defunding effort faces a tougher battle in the Senate, despite the fact that at least seven Democrats are on record opposing the president’s unconstitutional use of executive authority to implement sweeping changes to immigration policy. In addition, President Obama has promised to veto the DHS appropriation bill if it includes defunding language – essentially threatening to hold the operations of DHS hostage so that he can implement policies that, until a year ago, he acknowledged were beyond his constitutional authority.
Despite such threats, the House must stand firm. Congress has plenary authority to establish immigration laws and they have a sacred obligation to uphold our Constitution’s Separation of Powers doctrine. No matter how frustrated the president might be, he has no authority to unilaterally rewrite U.S. immigration policy.
Equally as important, blocking implementation of the Obama amnesty is essential to protecting the vital interests of the American people. The president’s policies would inflict grievous harm on American workers, taxpayers, and endanger the security of the country.
Millions of Americans who are unemployed, under-employed, or have given up hopes of finding jobs, would be forced to compete for an inadequate supply of jobs with an additional 5 million illegal aliens who would be granted work authorization under the president’s plan. Implementation of the president’s amnesty would further undermine the interests of millions more workers whose wages have been stagnant or declining.
Under the Obama amnesty, illegal aliens would be immediately eligible for federal benefits including Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, and a variety of tax credits. All of these programs would drain billions of dollars annually from the Treasury at the expense of American taxpayers. State and local taxpayers would be on the hook for billions more in education, law enforcement and other costs, which is why 25 states are currently suing to prevent the president from imposing this massive unfunded mandate on them.
At a time when the threat posed by international terrorists is greater than it has been at any time since 9/11, allowing the president to dip into DHS’s budget to divert money and manpower to implementing a massive amnesty program for illegal aliens would constitute a dangerous distraction from department’s primary mission – protecting the security of the American people. Despite administration claims that all applicants for the president’s amnesty will have to undergo background checks, it is impossible for DHS to thoroughly vet the 5 million people who are believed to be eligible to ensure that those who pose a threat to the nation do not gain legal status in this country.
Given all that is at stake, the House has acted rationally and responsibly to defend the Constitution and to protect the interests and security of the American people. It is now up to the Senate Democratic leadership and the president decide whether they are willing to imperil the Constitution and the security of the nation in order to impose a massive amnesty that is widely opposed by the American people.
No one wants to see the operations of DHS impaired in any way, but the president, through his actions appears determined to force a showdown. If the president and Senate Democrats choose that path, it will be up to them to explain to the American public why their political goal of rewarding millions of illegal aliens takes precedence over protecting the security of the United States.
Dan Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, a national non-profit organization that supports stricter enforcement of immigration laws.