POLITICS

GOP planning counter-attack to White House executive order on immigration

Nov. 7, 2014: President Obama meets with congressional leaders in the White House in Washington, D.C.

Nov. 7, 2014: President Obama meets with congressional leaders in the White House in Washington, D.C.  (AP)

Republicans in Congress are expected to huddle on Tuesday to hatch a plan for a push-back to President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

They are weighing several options, including introducing their own bill, perhaps as early as this week, as well as targeting the funding of agencies that play a key role in the executive action, according to The Hill.

In addition, some of the most conservative GOP members would like to see their party broaden its lawsuit against Obama and the health care bill to include the president’s unilateral move on immigration.

Some political observers see the introduction of a GOP bill as the most prudent way to respond to Obama’s executive order, which could spare some 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, as well as allow them to obtain work permits, driver’s licenses and a variety of federal benefits, including Medicare and Social Security.

“The best way to criticize governing through fiat is to offer an alternative,” said Republican activist Grover Norquist to The Hill.

“What appears to be the smart move, and what they’re going to do, is do immigration reform through normal legislative [channels],” said Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Do it in a way that Republicans find acceptable, meaning take the border seriously [and] think of America’s economic needs. Move forward on that and let him [Obama] be over in the corner stamping his feet.”

Obama said earlier this month that he opted to act unilaterally on immigration because Republicans in the House, where they have a majority, had blocked any attempt to move forward on comprehensive reform of the system. 

He said that while the Senate last year managed to draft and pass a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that both tightened border security and provided a path to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants who meet a strict set of criteria, efforts to do something similar in the House had stalled.

Republicans have said that Obama cannot be trusted because he has circumvented them on such things such as his health care bill, and they said that they were leery of passing a comprehensive immigration bill because they fear he will ignore the enforcement end of it.

Republicans also are divided among themselves on just how to address immigration.

Some, such as Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both of Florida, have expressed support for a bill that would tighten enforcement as well as give people here illegally a chance to legalize their status. They argue that the U.S. cannot realistically deport all estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants.

But other Republicans, such as Rep. Steve King of Iowa, is firmly opposed to any breaks for undocumented immigrants, saying that giving amnesty would be the same as rewarding people who flout the law, and would encourage more illegal immigration.

Alfonso Aguilar, who headed the Office of Citizenship under President George W. Bush, told The Hill that attacking Obama’s executive action by defunding its sources would be futile because much of the president’s order would be under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which functions on user fees instead congressional appropriations.

Aguilar, who is head of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said a lawsuit against the White House is not feasible either, according to The Hill.

“The case law is not on the Republican side,” he said.

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