Thursday, January 22, 2015

Stopping the President’s Executive Overreach on Immigration Reform

Phil Roe
by Rep. Phil Roe, U. S. Congressman, 1st District TN - In November, President Obama took executive action to make controversial, unprecedented changes to our nation’s immigration system. Despite the outrage of the American people and warnings from myself and other members of Congress that he was poisoning the well for real immigration reform, the president moved forward with actions that allow certain illegal immigrants who have been in America more than five years to avoid deportation as long as they register, pass a background check and pay taxes. This is estimated to extend legal protection to nearly five million immigrants who came to the United States illegally. I am pleased to report that this week, I joined my colleagues in the House in voting to stop this policy through the appropriations process.
As I’ve said before, I am completely opposed to this irresponsible and unconstitutional approach to immigration reform. It is extremely troubling and infuriating that we have a president who believes he can change laws without congressional approval, but this is not new behavior from this Administration. I was proud to see Tennessee was the 25th state to join a lawsuit challenging the president’s actions, and was pleased to see a court in Western Pennsylvania rule his actions were unconstitutional. We must continue to fight these actions in every way possible—both through the courts and in Congress.
One of the first actions I took in the 114th Congress was to join 56 of my colleagues in writing to House Speaker John Boehner urging him to keep a commitment he made at the end of the last Congress for the House to move swiftly to eliminate funding for the implementation of this policy. The legislation we passed in December has given the new Congress, which is led by Republicans in the House and Senate, ideal conditions to fight the president’s policy, and I am pleased to report that this week, the House took our fight to the next level.

In December, we passed a bill that only funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – through February because DHS is the agency in charge of implementing the president’s executive amnesty. This week the House passed a measure funding DHS operations for the rest of the fiscal year that blocks funding to implement the president’s executive amnesty; ensures no illegal immigrant receives any federal benefit; and stops the Administration from considering new, renewal or previously denied Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications—the policy that allows unaccompanied minors to stay in the country. Now the Senate must consider this legislation, and I hope they move swiftly to get legislation to the president’s desk that funds the important work being done at DHS and that blocks these irresponsible executive actions.

With a Republican-led House and Senate, President Obama has no choice but to work with Congress if he expects to accomplish anything in the final years of his presidency. And while I’d like to work with the president to find solutions to the many issues facing our country, we can’t accomplish anything meaningful if the president continues to try to ignore our laws and implement policies that haven’t been authorized by Congress. It’s up to the president. He can walk back his irresponsible governing tactics and work with Congress, or he can expect strong pushback from both chambers of Congress until the end of his presidency. I hope President Obama will choose effective governing, but if not, I’m ready to keep fighting for the American people.

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