Republicans are attacking President Barack Obama for acting like a “king that is above the law” in deciding to pick and choose which illegal aliens to deport.
“The Obama administration cannot get its amnesty schemes through Congress, so now it has resorted to implementing its plans via executive fiat,” said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
“We need to remind President Obama that we elected a president that serves beneath the law and did not anoint a king that is above the law.”
Joining her criticisms were two other border-state Republicans, Reps. Michael McCaul and Lamar Smith of Texas.
“It’s just the latest attempt by this president to bypass the intended legislative process when he does not get his way,” McCaul said.
Smith said, “The Obama administration should enforce immigration laws, not look for ways to ignore them."
And Florida Rep. Allen West jumped into the fray, too, calling for a House investigation into the guidelines. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, he accused Obama of “shredding the Constitution” with the new guidelines. “It is a form of amnesty and it does go against our Constitution and it very much concerns me because now we are rewarding people for an illegal activity,” he said.
“Think about the strain that is going to come on the types of services and things that we have to provide,” West added, saying aliens are getting a free pass.
The plan, called Secure Communities was first announced in June in an agency memo from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton. But battle lines are being drawn only now following a letter Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sent Democratic senators outlining its plans.
A posting on the ICE website calls it a “simple and common sense way to carry out ICE's priorities,” as it is designed to focus deportation efforts on “criminal aliens, those who pose a threat to public safety and repeat immigration law violators.”
But critics say it is too much like the stalled DREAM Act, a Democratic plan that would have given illegals a path to U.S. citizenship.
“The plan amounts to backdoor amnesty for hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of illegal aliens,” said Brewer, who succeeded Napolitano in the governor’s office in Phoenix.
“The president is encouraging more illegal immigration at the exact moment we need federal focus on border security.”
Brewer pointed to a speech Obama made to the Hispanic civil rights group, the National Council of La Raza, in Washington on July 25, in which he rejected the idea of imposing immigration reform without reference to Congress.
“He said, ‘Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. And, believe me, right now dealing with Congress, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. But that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.’
“President Obama got it right last month and got it really wrong today,” Brewer said. “Over the next 15 months I’m certain we’ll hear a lot of talk from the Obama administration about its concern for border security. Those of us who truly care about the rule of law will remember the president’s actions.”
Under the plan, Homeland Security and the Justice Department will review all deportation cases to see whether they meet 19 different criteria. About 300,000 deportation cases now under consideration will be included, she said.
Among factors that would be considered favorably are if the potential deportee has been in the United States since childhood, whether they have sought higher education or have served in the military and whether they are caregivers.
The White House insists that the plan is not a path to citizenship or permanent legal status or an amnesty. Cecilia Munoz, the White House’s intergovernmental affairs director, wrote on the White House blog that with an estimated 10 million people in the country illegally, limited resources should be focused on deporting “people who have been convicted of crimes or pose a security risk.”
Munoz said that, since 2008, there has been a 70 percent increase in the number of deportations of people with criminal records while the number of people deported who have no record has gone down.
Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said, “The message is that as long as you keep your nose clean and do not commit a serious crime, then you don’t have to worry about immigration law enforcement. That’s a pretty strong incentive to stick around.
“It really is attempting to achieve by executive fiat what the Congress won’t do and the American people don’t want, and that really requires a lot of audacity.”
While Republicans attacked the scheme, Democrats welcomed it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it would focus on “serious felons, gang members and individuals who are a national security threat rather than college students and veterans who have risked their lives for our country.
“I am especially pleased about the impact these new policies will have on those who would benefit from the DREAM Act. We lose a lot by sending them back to countries they do not know.”
And Jason Resnick, general counsel of Western Growers, which represents farming groups added, “We hope this is a move toward an immigration solution that works for agriculture. Even in this time of great unemployment, we are not seeing domestic workers apply for jobs.”
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