Rep. Lou Barletta
March 23, 2015
We have immigration laws in this country for two basic reasons: to preserve American jobs and to protect national security. President Barack Obama’s unlawful executive actions to grant amnesty to at least 5 million illegal immigrants violate both of those principles. Any objective review must find that the president’s policies have placed the concerns of those who have broken our laws ahead of the interests of citizens and legal residents of the United States.
The president’s systematic dismantling of our immigration laws began in 2011 with the so-called Morton Memos, which instructed immigration officials to ignore broad categories of people for deportation purposes. That policy was expanded the following year by his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA abuses the practice of prosecutorial discretion by halting the deportation of illegal immigrants and by proactively granting them work permits, if they claim to have arrived in the U.S. when they were younger than 16 and have been present for five years, among other criteria. These actions culminated in November 2014 — after the federal elections — when the president acted unilaterally to grant amnesty and work permits to millions more who were already illegally present in this country.
Employment is difficult enough to find for millions of Americans and legal residents who woke up this morning without a pay check. On top of that hardship, the president has now introduced millions of new applicants who will compete for jobs that are already scarce. It is difficult to imagine how such a policy is beneficial to American workers.
Worse, the president has laid out the welcome mat for anyone around the world who seeks illegal access to the interior of the United States. More than a decade ago, the 9/11 Commission warned us terrorists want two things more than anything: to gain entry into this country, and to be able to stay here. The president’s policies make it unmanageable to screen all those who apply for amnesty, and therefore impossible to know whom we are dealing with. Moreover, the open invitation the president has advertised to the world now makes it more attractive than ever for terrorists, such as those sympathetic to the group that calls itself the Islamic State, to infiltrate our borders.
In recent contentious debate, Congress voted to extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security. I support defending this nation, but the president’s position that the funding of his executive amnesty was more important than protecting national security was something I could not agree with. I cannot understand the argument that providing work permits and federal benefits to those who have broken our laws is more important than funding the defense of our country.
This is a president who said at least 22 times he did not have the constitutional authority to do what he eventually did — ignore the immigration laws enacted by Congress. This is a clear issue involving the separation of powers of the three branches of the federal government.
Thankfully, a federal judge in Texas has granted an injunction, which will allow a lawsuit brought by 26 states to proceed. Presumably, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will also weigh in. Unfortunately, it seems it will now be left to the courts to decide whether this president — or any other — is above the Constitution.
And so the question remains for the administration: whose rights are more important? Lawful citizens and residents of the United States, or those who would willfully break our immigration laws?
Rep. Lou Barletta is a Republican from Pennsylvania.