Republicans Must Avoid Shiny Objects in Immigration Debate

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Immigration

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Republicans in Washington have been stymied by the President’s impertinence towards the rule of law and disrespect for the legislative authority of Congress.  The only tool that Congress can utilize against an imperial presidency is the power of the purse, yet Republicans have been reluctant to engage in such brinkmanship.  But now the President has given Republicans their best point of leverage yet – he is asking for new funding to clean up the immigration mess created by his lawless amnesties.  It’s time Republicans embrace the leverage instead of squandering it.

In June 2011, the Obama administration sent a memo (“Morton Memos”) to DHS law enforcement ostensibly suspending deportations against those illegals who would qualify for the Dream Act – a law the never passed Congress.  This policy, which was eventually formalized into the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was fully institutionalized on June 15, 2012.

It’s bad enough for a president to violate even minor laws and serve as his own ad hoc law-making body.  But it is downright dangerous for a president to shred our immigration laws, which are so fundamental to preserving our sovereignty and protecting our national security.  Obama was clearly in violation of federal law (8 U.S.C. § 1225) which requires ICE to place aliens who are not “clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted” to the United States into removal proceedings.  In its place, he unilaterally created his own law, yet most Republicans huffed and puffed but did not fight back with the power of the purse.

Fast-forward two years and we are now witnessing the failure of such lawlessness in spectacular fashion. Hundreds of thousands of people from Central America are chomping at the bit to take advantage of the new open borders policy while the going is good.  Now Obama is forced to ask Congress for more money to “clean up” his mess.  It goes without saying that the first demand of all Republicans should be the suspension of DACA and the repeal of Obama other lawless acts – the very impetus for this request for funding.

Yet many Republicans seem content to ignore DACA and focus on shiny objects, some of which actually help Obama with his deceptive messaging.  Senator John Cornyn has introduced a bill that includes vague border security language similar to the Senate Gang of 8 bill. He also proposed changes to the much-hyped 2008 human trafficking law (the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA)), which supposedly requires ICE to hand-over unaccompanied child aliens from non-contiguous countries to HHS instead of deporting them.

Republicans must learn that this law is a complete shiny object.

Not only is the 2008 law not the impetus for causing this wave of illegal immigration, for the most part it is not an impediment to sending them back.  The administration has failed to provide ample data of those already apprehended, but as the Center for Immigration Studies notes, it is unclear how many of the illegals fit the description of an “Unaccompanied Alien Child.”  A large percentage of them are adults, many of the children are accompanied by an adult, and even among those who are unaccompanied many of them have relatives here.

Even among those who are legitimately designated as UACs, only those who have been “severely” trafficked are eligible for the protected status that precludes expedited removal.  As the CIS report notes, there is scant evidence that a large amount of the recent arrivals have been severely trafficked as much as they were consensually smuggled.  Finally, even if the two aforementioned factors apply, the 2008 law exempts “exceptional circumstances.”  It’s hard to imagine waves of tens of thousands of illegals fitting into the spiriting of the original bill and not qualifying as an extraordinary circumstance.  Moreover, as the Heritage Foundation observed, Section 235 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)  explicitly grants the administration the authority to deport anyone who has not been paroled or in the country for two years.

Hence, the 2008 trafficking law is nothing but a distraction tossed out by the White House.  Any attempt by Republicans to make this the main issue will only serve to buttress Obama’s attempt to distract from his man-made crisis.  They should demand a repeal of DACA and the dozens of other lawless acts, as laid out by Senator Sessions.  Not only has Obama made no attempt to restore the laws he’s already abrogated, he has promised to grant administrative amnesty to 5-6 million more illegal aliens.

Now is not the time to focus on shiny objects and distractions.  Now is the time to let Obama know that the days of lawlessness are over.