WASHINGTON – Republicans immediately blasted leaked details of President Obama’s plan to grant amnesty to some five million illegal immigrants by executive order, but GOP leaders seem unwilling to use the tools available to confront him.
According to an administration source, millions of illegal immigrants would reportedly become eligible for Social Security numbers, government-issued IDs and authorization to work in the United States.
Reaction from conservative lawmakers was swift and scathing.
- Sen. David Vitter, R-La., told WND, “Not only is it unconstitutional, it’s incredibly dangerous – for our national security, public health and our economy.”
- “President Obama’s policies were flatly rejected last week at the polls. Voters didn’t demand that President Obama unilaterally issue work permits to millions of illegal immigrants to take jobs Americans want and need. Republicans need to stand for the American worker and against lawless executive amnesty,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., told WND.
- “Just days after claiming he wants to work with Congress … Once again, the president is ignoring the will of the American people by bypassing Congress. It is unacceptable,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C.
- “Obama’s decision to not enforce the law will drive more parents to send their kids here illegally, fueling sex trafficking and putting cash in the pockets of violent drug lords. Obama is threatening the lives of children and fueling border violence,” Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, told WND.
- A spokesperson for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told WND he has repeatedly said taking executive action on immigration is not only unconstitutional but entirely counterproductive to the goal of fixing the broken immigration system.
- Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said, “The audacity of this president to think he can completely destroy the rule of law with the stroke of a pen is unfathomable to me. It is unconstitutional, it is cynical and it violates the will of the American people. Our republic will not stand if we tolerate a president who is set upon the complete destruction of the rule of law.”
- “The president must abandon his my-way-or-the-highway approach and instead work constructively with Congress. He must reject unilateralism and demonstrate a willingness to enforce the law, even when he may prefer a different policy outcome,” said Sen, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Obama’s plan reportedly contains 10 points, including increased border security and pay raises for immigration personnel, but the key feature would expand “deferred action” for both illegal immigrants who arrived as children and, significantly, their parents.
Deferred action means the government would not enforce deportation laws against more than 4.5 million parents of illegal immigrants and another 300,000 of their children who arrived in the United States before Jan. 1, 2010. (The previous cut-off date was June 2007.)
An executive order Obama unilaterally imposed on June 15, 2012, called Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals, or DACA, allowed 700,000 illegal immigrants to reside in the country legally, said Leon Rodriguez, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in July.
The new order would essentially expand DACA by making more children eligible for amnesty, as well as their parents.
Conservatives in Congress want to stop an amnesty executive order from taking effect by depriving Obama the funding needed to implement his plan, a strategy outlined in detail to WND Wednesday by a key Senate aide.
Republicans would pass a series of short-term continuing resolutions, or CRs, that would fund everything necessary to keep the government running past a Dec. 11 deadline and through the beginning of next year, while not funding the amnesty order.
GOP leaders apparently favor passing a longer-term omnibus spending bill.
They worry Obama would provoke another government shutdown by refusing to sign CRs lacking the funding for amnesty, and fear the GOP would get the blame.
House Appropriations Committee Chariman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., flatly said, “I don’t want a shutdown,” adding, “You should not take a hostage that you can’t shoot.”
And spokeswoman for the appropriations committee, Jennifer Hing said, “We are moving forward full steam ahead on a 12-bill omnibus, not a [continuing resolution].”
Conservative Republicans see the CR strategy at the most effective means at their disposal to stop amnesty and are incensed their leadership would forfeit Congress’ power of the purse to stop amnesty.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, adamantly endorsed employing the CRs instead of negotiating a longer-term spending plan with a Senate that will still be controlled by the Democrats until January.
He told WND, “It makes no sense for Republicans to be cutting deals with representatives and senators who have just been thrown out of office with a vote of no confidence.”
“The newly elected Republican majority needs to be making the major decisions like critical appropriations. Allowing people to spend trillions of dollars who have been declared no longer representative would be a huge mistake,” he added.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, stated, “I am calling on all of my colleagues in the House to use the power of the purse to protect our Article I authority. This is about defending our oath to the Constitution, too. We cannot allow Barack Obama’s anticipated, unconstitutional act to be implemented, for if it is it will destroy the pillars of American exceptionalism.”
Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared to articulate GOP leadership fears that a government shutdown caused by Obama refusing to sign short-term CRs would be blamed on Republicans when he flatly announced Thursday, “We will not be shutting the government down.”
When asked how he would fight amnesty, McConnell replied, “We’ll let you know.”
Indeed, the government shutdown in the fall of 2013 over the funding of Obamacare was roundly blamed on the Republicans by the establishment media and portrayed as a public relations fiasco for the GOP.
But conservatives feel it would be different this time because they expect the public will support a GOP move to block amnesty by presidential executive order.
Conservatives point to such surveys as a post-election exit poll by the Polling Company that showed 74 percent of voters want the president to work with Congress on immigration rather than going it alone, including 92 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of independents and even a majority, 51 percent, of Democrats.
A Rasmussen poll in August found 62 percent of likely voters opposed Obama acting unilaterally to order amnesty, while only 26 percent favored it.
History also shows conservatives may have reason to believe the public will support a GOP showdown with Obama over amnesty.
Bachmann has told WND how voters melted the phone lines on Capitol Hill to compel their representatives to block amnesty the last time it was tried on a massive scale.
The congresswoman said it was a huge backlash by the conservative grassroots in 2007 that caused voters to jam the phone lines and stop the amnesty bill introduced by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and the late Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.
She said the 2007 bill provoked more outrage than even Obamacare.
And she told WND the same thing happened again in August when House Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, had to kill his own border bill for lack of support after conservatives feared the legislation was too weak on illegal immigration.
Bachmann then successfully engineered the passage of a $694-million bill intended to fix the border crisis, supported by both moderates and conservatives, by a vote of 223 to 189.
“People melting the phone lines really saved members from themselves,” she told WND.
The congresswoman credited the efforts of grassroots voters who demanded a stronger bill, one that would do more to secure the border and discourage illegal immigrants by reducing the prospects for amnesty.
Conservatives are expecting public support to give them the political capital they need to weather the storm if there is a government shutdown over amnesty.
The Wall Street Journal reported conservatives “aren’t concerned about accusations of prompting a government shutdown,” illustrating that with a quote from Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, who said of voters: “They are tired of the president circumventing Congress.”
That sentiment was echoed by Gohmert, who told WND, “Americans spoke on Election Day and gave Republicans control of the Senate and elected even more conservative Republicans in the House.”
“Republicans need to stand strong and pass a short-term funding bill just into 2015 rather than an omnibus to cover all the money the president wants for everything next year.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., endorsed the CR strategy in a recent op-ed in Politico, writing, “Congress has the power of the purse. The president cannot spend a dime unless Congress appropriates it,” and pointed out a similar strategy stopped Obama from closing the prison camp for terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.
Voicing the same sentiment was Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who asked rhetorically in an interview, “If the president does something that we really don’t like or approve of, we’re thinking about, how do we defund it? What levers do we have available to us … to pull to prevent the president from doing that in the first place, or defunding it if he does take that step?”
Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., organized a letter signed by 50 House Republicans urging lawmakers to insist that spending legislation include language preventing Obama from acting unilaterally on amnesty.
The congressman told the Wall Street Journal, “Everybody had said they want to do something to stop his recklessness. If we have an opportunity to actually do something rather than complain … why shouldn’t we?”