President Obama has launched his “We Can’t Wait” campaign to justify taking various executive actions and avoid having to deal with Congress. But his political tantrum would be better described as “we can’t wait to ignore laws and have our way.”
One of the most egregious examples of this unconstitutional agenda is the president’s disregard for our nation’s immigration laws. The Constitution gives Congress the authority to write our nation’s immigration laws, and it is the president’s job to enforce them. But because his amnesty agenda has faced bipartisan opposition in Congress and is opposed by the majority of Americans, President Obama and his administration instead have chosen to undermine the rule of law at every opportunity.
Last November, the Obama administration unilaterally changed our nation’s deportation guidelines by abusing executive power. Under this administration’s deportation policy, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys review all incoming, and most pending, cases before an immigration court to determine if the illegal immigrant can remain in the U.S. Since the Obama administration has decided that many illegal immigrants are not considered “priorities” for deportation, this means that huge numbers of illegal immigrants, potentially millions, will be allowed to remain in the U.S.
The administration’s changes to our deportation policy could also allow illegal immigrants to receive work permits, which could put even more U.S. citizens on the unemployment rolls. In fact, when illegal immigrants are allowed to stay in the U.S. and apply for work authorization, the Obama administration gives them work permits 90 percent of the time.
President Obama’s backdoor amnesty only benefits illegal immigrants, not Americans. Six months into this dangerous policy, nearly 17,000 illegal and criminal immigrants across the U.S. have been designated by ICE for backdoor amnesty. Unemployed Americans already have enough trouble finding a job in this economy, and the Obama administration’s lack of immigration enforcement increases their challenge.
As part of his “We Can’t Wait” campaign, President Obama also routinely neglects to enforce our immigration laws. His administration has all but abandoned worksite enforcement efforts. Over the past three years, these efforts fell 70 percent. Under the Obama administration, there have been fewer arrests of illegal workers, fewer criminal arrests, fewer indictments, and fewer convictions. As a result, 7 million illegal immigrants continue to work in the U.S., forcing unemployed American workers to compete with them for scarce jobs.
And rather than enforce immigration laws, President Obama’s Justice Department can’t wait to sue states that try to help enforce these federal laws. In fact, the administration has filed suit against Arizona, Alabama, and South Carolina for trying to enforce federal immigration laws and reduce illegal immigration. Most recently, during the Supreme Court’s hearing on Arizona v. United States, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that it seems “the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally.”
While President Obama may not like our immigration laws, the American people do, and they want to see them enforced. In fact, according to a recent poll, two-thirds of Americans want to see our immigration laws enforced. Another poll found that Americans support Arizona’s law to help enforce federal immigration laws by more than a two-to-one margin. The president is clearly on the wrong side of the American people.
President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” slogan reflects his disregard for our system of constitutional checks and balances and the will of the majority of Americans. And that’s exactly why the American people can’t wait for November to vote for a new commander-in-chief.
— Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.