Republican pushback against President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform turned into full-scale shoveback the first week of December.
However, the Obama administration is so confident of victory in this battle that the Department of Homeland Security, through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is prepared to hire hundreds of people to process work permits and green cards.
Obama finished the first week of the last month of 2014 by saying House and Senate Republicans were to blame for his executive order.
If only they would have acted, the president insisted, he would not have had to take such a drastic measure.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, also the governor-elect, believes Obama’s executive order is drastic. It closes the door on deportation for 5 million illegal immigrants and “tramples the U.S. Constitution’s Take Care Clause and federal law,” in the legal eyes of Abbott.
Abbott said the Take Care Clause limits the president’s power and ensures he will faithfully execute Congress’s laws — not rewrite them under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion.”
He and 16 other state attorneys general filed suit against the White House Dec. 3, challenging the constitutionality of the order and alleging the order would have a negative impact on security in the southern border states.
Abbott and Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) warned in November that Obama’s order, which would grant legal status and work permits to illegal immigrants, would also immediately increase border security problems for Texas.
As reported by PJ Media on Nov. 27, Abbott told Fox News Sunday that following the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program of 2012, Texas saw 1,000 people a day streaming across the border from Mexico.
“Because they believed DACA allowed them to come here,” he said. “We are going to face the same challenges now that we faced then.”
The states’ case was filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas. The multi-state coalition includes Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, like many Republicans, used the president’s own words against the White House.
“Until recently, the president repeatedly made clear that there is a lawful way to fix the nation’s broken immigration system and an unlawful way,” Schmidt said. “Until he reversed course last month, the president correctly insisted that he lacked authority under the Constitution to essentially suspend the law or rewrite it to suit his preferences.”
Another party to the lawsuit, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, said the lawsuit is not only about immigration. He, too, said this is about the rule of law, presidential power, and the enforcement of the U.S. Constitution.
“The president issued a directive that legalizes the presence of approximately 40 percent of the known undocumented immigrant population, and affords them legal rights and benefit,” said Strange. “That unilateral suspension of the nation’s immigration laws is unlawful.”
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his decision to join the suit also transcended the immigration issue. He accused the White House of “cherry picking” the laws it will enforce, ignore or change.
Morrisey said Obama’s immigration edict is just the latest in a long series of actions in which the executive branch has opted to ignore laws passed by Congress.
“Whether it is ignoring sections of the Clean Air Act in order to promote a partisan agenda and put coal jobs at risk, disregarding sections of the Affordable Care Act to preserve public support of a bad law, or making our borders weaker, this president and his administration are playing fast and loose with Americans’ lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness. In times like this it is imperative that states stand together and defend the rule of law.”
The 17 state attorneys general are not alone in their fight against Obama’s immigration order.
The House voted Dec. 4 to stop the executive action by a 219-197 vote.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) spoke against the legislation while standing beside a life-sized cutout of former President Ronald Reagan as he compared the Obama executive order to action taken by Reagan during his administration.
However, the legislation sponsored by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) is sure to die in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised to let it languish in committee.
If GOP prayers are answered and by some miracle it does pass the Senate, the Obama administration has promised a veto.
“The immigration issue is, I recognize, one that generates a lot of passion, but it does not make sense for us to want to push talent out rather than make sure that they’re staying here and contributing to society,” said Obama at the College Opportunity Summit in Washington.
“Rather than deport students, and separate families, and make it harder for law enforcement to do its job, I just want Congress to work with us to pass a common-sense law to fix that broken immigration system. And there’s a lot that Congress could do to help more young people access and afford higher education. I’d like to see us spend more time on that.”
The Obama administration must feel confident of victory on immigration reform. An internal U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services memo showed the USCIS is getting ready to open a new “operational center” for 1,000 full-time, permanent federal and contract employees.
The memo tells USCIS staff, “The initial workload will include cases filed as a result of the executive actions on immigration announced on Nov. 20, 2014.”