The Corner

Amnesty by Fiat?

A group of senators sent a letter to the president this week to warn him against something that’s apparently being tossed around inside the administration: granting an amnesty unilaterally, without input from Congress. Apparently, this plan would apply only to visa overstayers and other illegals who’ve applied for green cards as a delaying tactic knowing they won’t qualify — but that would mean maybe 5 million people.

“Deferred action” and “parole” aren’t the same as green cards and so don’t lead to citizenship, but they can be indefinite and they come with an Employment Authorization Document and a Social Security number, so they’re all the amnesty most illegals would ever need.

I find it hard to believe that the administration would seriously consider doing this. A source on the Hill agreed with my speculation that this is being talked about (and maybe even leaked) to string along the open-borders Left. But a letter like this probably serves the administration’s purposes in creating a controversy and giving the White House an excuse not to do it.

Here’s the text:

Dear President Obama:

We understand that there’s a push for your Administration to develop a plan to unilaterally extend either deferred action or parole to millions of illegal aliens in the United States. We understand that the Administration may include aliens who have willfully overstayed their visas or filed for benefits knowing that they will not be eligible for a status for years to come. We understand that deferred action and parole are discretionary actions reserved for individual cases that present unusual, emergent or humanitarian circumstances. Deferred action and parole were not intended to be used to confer a status or offer protection to large groups of illegal aliens, even if the agency claims that they look at each case on a “case-by-case” basis.

While we agree our immigration laws need to be fixed, we are deeply concerned about the potential expansion of deferred action or parole for a large illegal alien population. While deferred action and parole are Executive Branch authorities, they should not be used to circumvent Congress’ constitutional authority to legislate immigration policy, particularly as it relates to the illegal population in the United States.

The Administration would be wise to abandon any plans for deferred action or parole for the illegal population. Such a move would further erode the American public’s confidence in the federal government and its commitment to securing the borders and enforcing the laws already on the books.

We would appreciate receiving a commitment that the Administration has no plans to use either authority to change the current position of a large group of illegal aliens already in the United States, and ask that you respond to us about this matter as soon as possible.

The signatories are Grassley, Vitter, Chambliss, Inhofe, Hatch, Bunning, Isakson, and Cochran.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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