Since President Barack Obama’s “immigration reform” didn’t pass, he’s weighing the idea of bypassing Congress altogether. Recently, the White House chief of staff met with Hispanic lawmakers and promised executive action after the elections, potentially allowing millions of illegal immigrants to live in the U.S. without fear of deportation. But executive action on immigration isn’t popular with the public. He knows it. That’s why he’s waiting until after the elections.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, among others, questioned the legality of the president’s proposal on CNN. Obama himself told Telemundo last September — after signing an executive amnesty for “Dreamers” when the DREAM Act didn’t pass — that expanding that amnesty was “not an option” and that it “would be ignoring the law in a way that would be very difficult to defend legally.” That was last year. But now he’s facing angry Hispanic lobbyists , business executives, immigrant advocates demanding executive action.
Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King should publicly and unambiguously oppose this executive action. In America, we live by laws. No special exemptions for favored groups. And presidents can’t simply ignore the legal process because they didn’t get what they wanted from Congress.
The New York Times reports, “The go-it-alone approach has left the administration — which claims to be the most transparent in United States history — essentially making policy from the White House, replacing congressional hearings and floor debates with closed meetings for invited constituencies.”
Who gets invited? In July and August, White House officials conducted more than 20 meetings with business leaders and immigrant rights groups to discuss executive action on immigration. The New York Times reports that in drafting the executive action, “lobbyists and interest groups invited to the White House are making their case out of public view.”
We have 17 million Americans looking for full-time work, not counting those who’ve given up entirely. They want a better life, too. But no one has mentioned participation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, U.S. Border Patrol agents, unemployed Americans, labor economists or the experts consulted by the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform in the 1990s, which advised strict workplace enforcement.
Immigration politics, like all politics today, is driven by money. The great and mighty, like Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch — a gang of billionaire liberal and conservative globalists — joined forces with big business, and their allies have spent $1.5 billion since 2007 trying to pass their immigration bill. Apparently, these folks don’t stress about national boundaries, the constitutional separation of powers or any sense of obligation to American workers. They seem to believe they’re entitled to what they want. After all, they’ve paid enough for it. But even with the president in their corner, the American people said no.
Now they’re pissed. And they’re looking for back-door ways to get what they want. No messing with Congress. In addition to the executive amnesty, they’re asking Obama to change the way green cards are counted, adding potentially 800,000 new visas. In a previous executive action this year, Obama gave work permits to spouses of workers with H1B visas, adding 100,000 more workers. Responding to Hispanic demands, he quietly gutted enforcement, slashing deportations by 20 percent.
Writing in USA Today in late July, five leading labor economists asserted, “There’s an ample supply of American workers who are willing and qualified to fill high-skill jobs in this country. The only real disagreement is whether the supply is two or three times larger than the demand.”
This glaring disconnect between jobs and workers was a major reason “comprehensive immigration reform” failed. Not because Americans “fear the other” or because of Republican “obstructionism.” There are powerful, legitimate arguments for reducing immigration, not for massively expanding it.
The federal government should enforce our laws impartially, without special deals crafted in secrecy at the behest of well connected groups. Congress should not be ignored simply because Obama and the rich and mighty couldn’t get their immigration bill passed.
Jonette Christian of Holden is a founder of Mainers for Sensible Immigration Policy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.