A group of 22 Senate Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged President Barack Obama not to proceed with another plan to limit deportations of immigrants here illegally.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is reviewing immigration policy on Obama’s orders, with an eye toward limiting deportations that break up families — and as an immigration overhaul effort has stalled in the House.
“According to reports, the changes under consideration would represent a near complete abandonment of basic immigration enforcement and discard the rule of law and the notion that the United States has enforceable borders,” the letter said. “Clearly, the urgent task facing your administration is to improve immigration enforcement, not to look for new ways to weaken it.”
The review comes after the administration has come under intense pressure by advocates of an immigration overhaul to take further steps to reduce the number of deportations. Deportations have reached record levels under Obama, causing some of his allies to label him “Deporter-In-Chief.”
But many Republicans have ripped the president for taking matters into his own hands already, including in 2012, when the administration issued a policy granting deportation relief and work permits to children brought here illegally, provided they met certain criteria.
“The evidence proves that the Administration has collapsed immigration enforcement,” said Sen. Jeff Session of Alabama, the lead author of the letter and leading critic of the president’s immigration proposals. “As a result, millions of struggling Americans have been deprived of their jobs and incomes. Congress must work to end the lawlessness and restore constitutional order. Yet Congressional Democrats continue to empower the illegality and stonewall all efforts to stop it.”
The letter argues that Obama’s policies have already allowed people with criminal backgrounds to remain in the country. “Since [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] frequently takes no action until after the most serious crimes have occurred and the offenders have been tried and imprisoned, the administration is allowing preventable crimes harming innocent people to take place every day.”
The letter further argues that policy ignores the law, which “exceed the bounds of the Executive Branch’s prosecutorial discretion. It is not the province of the Executive to nullify the laws that the people of the United States, through their elected representatives, have chosen to enact. . . .”
“You swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” the letter said. “We therefore ask you to uphold that oath and to carry out the duties required by the Constitution and entrusted to you by the American people.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.