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McCain, Graham and Rubio: No Executive Immigration Relief

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three Republican architects of the Senate's immigration bill are warning President Barack Obama not to give relief without Congress to immigrants here illegally, warning that would "open the floodgates" to more illegal immigration.  

“We write to you today to strongly discourage such action,” John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida said in a letter Thursday.  

“Providing legal status by executive order to people who entered this country unlawfully will only incentivize illegal immigration and open the floodgates to more visa overstays and illegal entries over our southern border,” the letter continued. Obama has vowed to act on his own on immigration before the end of the year citing a lack of action in the House.  

McCain, Graham, and Rubio were part of the Gang of Eight senators — four Republicans and four Democrats — whom drafted the bill and shepherded it through the Senate. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., was the fourth Republican, but was not on the letter.  

After Senate passage, House Republicans never considered the measure or one of their own, as they split over their own leadership's immigration principles. The three argued in the letter that no relief should be given until the southern border is sufficiently secured.  

“Moreover, the need to secure our southern border and effectively enforce the law has been underscored — not diminished — by recent developments at home and abroad of which you are well aware,” the letter said.  

The letter comes after a surge of unaccompanied children entered the country illegally this summer. Earlier this year, Obama requested $3.7 billion to deal with the flood, but Congress ignored the request.  

Now, with Republicans possibly on the cusp of winning control of the Senate after Tuesday’s elections, the three Senators argued that if Obama acts alone it undermine the system of checks and balances as well as poisons the well for any other action on immigration in the remaining two years of his administration.  

“We urge you to work with Congress to secure our borders and address the serious issues facing America’s immigration system,” the letter said. “Unilateral action by the executive branch on this issue would be detrimental to finding and enacting much-needed long-term policy and legislative solutions to our broken immigration system.  

"In this regard, acting by executive order on an issue of this magnitude would be the most divisive action you could take — completely undermining any good-faith effort to meaningfully address this important issue, which would be a disservice to the needs of the American people,” the letter said.  

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