House GOPs Say Obama Has a Year to Prove He'd Be Trustworthy on Immigration

Late last month, during a Republican legislative retreat, Boehner and leadership issued what they described as “immigration reform principles,” which included keeping the borders secure, preventing employers from hiring undocumented workers, offering a temporary worker program, overhauling the visa system and providing DREAMERs – those born on foreign soil brought here as children by undocumented parents -- with a roadmap to citizenship.

But Republican lawmakers were tepid about the entreaty, with some asserting the party would be better off postponing action until 2015 – after the November elections where the GOP stands a good chance of capturing a Senate majority.

Republican lawmakers also are leery about entrusting Obama with administering any new law that might result, citing what they view as the president’s propensity for undermining Congress by issuing executive orders.

The suspicions persist even though the Department of Homeland Security has deported almost 2 million people since Obama assumed office, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Action was taken against about 409,000 undocumented individuals in 2012 and 368,644 in 2013.

Derrick Morgan, vice president for domestic and economic policy at the Heritage Foundation, said “policymakers have no real reason to trust the president to uphold any new immigration laws.”

“President Obama’s administration has changed his signature health care law again and again,” Morgan said. “In the immigration area, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will not enforce our nation’s immigration law against so-called ‘dreamers’ by issuing a memorandum, after Congress has repeatedly refused to pass the DREAM Act. Our federal drug laws will also go unenforced by the president in states that legalize them under state law. Even now, the president has decided to use executive power to impose carbon dioxide limits even though Congress rejected that policy during the cap-and-trade debate.”

Labrador said by delaying consideration Obama “has a year to prove to us that he is willing to actually enforce the law.”

“Until we have that trust, it would be a mistake to move forward on immigration reform,” he said.

Delaying immigration reform until next year offers no assurance of action. In fact, it may complicate matters for Republicans, since consideration likely will come at the onset of the GOP presidential campaign. Greg Sargent, writing for the Washington Post, said that could pull the Republican field to the right – “leaving the eventual nominee saddled with extreme party rhetoric and positions on the issue, further alienating Latinos in the general election — exactly as happened in 2012.”

“Consider the role of Ted Cruz, who is expected to run for president,” Sargent wrote. “He’s already attacking the new GOP immigration principles as ‘amnesty.’ If Republicans try to pass reform in 2015, he’ll have an opening to demagogue the heck out of the issue to appeal to a chunk of right wing GOP primary voters. He’ll do all he can to turn the GOP primary process into an anti-amnesty sludge-fest.”

But Cruz insists he wants to postpone debate for other reasons – although those reasons are also political.

“Amnesty is wrong in any circumstances and if we are going to fix our broken immigration system -- and we should -- it makes much more sense to do so next year, so that we are negotiating a responsible solution with a Republican Senate majority rather than with (Sen.) Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.),” Cruz said. “Anyone pushing an amnesty bill right now should go ahead and put a 'Harry Reid for Majority Leader' bumper sticker on their car, because that will be the likely effect if Republicans refuse to listen to the American people and foolishly change the subject from Obamacare to amnesty."