FAIR Legislative Update October 31, 2012
In an interview with editors from the Des Moines Register last week, President Obama promised that if re-elected, amnesty would be granted to the millions of illegal aliens currently in the United States. (Des Moines Register interview transcript, Oct. 24, 2012)
The President said he was “confident” Congress would pass amnesty legislation in the first year of his second term because, like Democrats, Republicans would use the issue for no other reason than to court Latino votes. Claiming Republicans have “alienated” Latino voters, he suggested that after the Republicans lose the elections, they would change their position and support amnesty. (Id.) “George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America. And so I&’m fairly confident that [Republicans are] going to have a deep interest in getting that done.” (Id.)
Remarkably, President Obama also revealed his ignorance of the 14 th Amendment when explaining who would receive amnesty under a second Obama Administration. When asked whether it matters who is President next, he responded that it “will matter to young people all across the country who were born here … and are Americans in every way except that they don&’t have documentation and would continue to be at risk of deportation.” (Des Moines Register interview transcript, Oct. 24, 2012)(emphasis added) However, under the current interpretation of the 14 th Amendment, all individuals born in the United States are automatically citizens, meaning anyone born in the U.S. would neither be at risk of deportation nor need amnesty. (U.S. Const. amend. XIV, Sec. 1)
In response, Governor Romney&’s campaign sharply criticized the President for basing his immigration policy purely on politics. “It’s a fascinating glimpse into how President Obama has taken the Hispanic community for granted for the past four years,” said a Romney spokesman. “He’s caught making secret promises to an editorial board in Iowa, which also happens to be a promise he made in 2008, a promise he failed to keep, and a promise he doesn’t repeat publicly. The whole episode underscores why millions of Hispanics are deeply disappointed with President Obama.” (Fox News.com, Oct. 25, 2012)
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced last week that over 200,000 illegal aliens have applied for deferred action under the Obama Administration&’s backdoor amnesty program. (The Hill, Oct. 24, 2012) Secretary Napolitano offered these latest statistics on the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), while speaking to a panel of educators who serve on the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC) in Washington, D.C. (Id.)
The number of applications for these deportation reprieves has soared since the Obama Administration opened the application process just two months ago. As of September 10, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for granting deferred action and work authorization, reported that over 82,000 illegal aliens had applied for deferred action under DACA. (USCIS data, Sept. 14, 2012) As of October 10, the number of applications had risen to 179,000. (USCIS data, Oct. 12, 2012) It is estimated that as many as 1.7 million illegal aliens will qualify for deferred action under the President&’s program. (Pew Hispanic Center release, Aug. 14, 2012)
However, as USCIS is accepting and approving more and more applications, the agency continues to ignore requests from Congress for more information on the program. In particular, the agency has failed to answer repeated questions from Members of Congress regarding background checks of applicants or for the number of applications that have been denied. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Oct. 15, 2012) But while ignoring requests from Congress, Homeland Security is working hard to make sure illegal aliens have answers to their questions. At last week&’s meeting, Secretary Napolitano said DHS is continually updating its website with answers to questions that could come up for applicants during the process. (The Hill, Oct. 24, 2012)
Secretary Napolitano also told the audience to expect an increase in applications after the election. (Id.) “I suspect that we may see a bulge of applications after the New Year when there&’s either this administration or a new administration and when the policies are going to be become more clear,” said Napolitano. (Id.) She added that a DACA application will take at least 4 months to process, during which time the applicant will not be deported from the country. (Id.)
Next week, Montana voters will decide whether to implement a law that denies benefits to illegal aliens. In 2011, the Montana Legislature passed House Bill 638 (HB 638), which denies state-taxpayer funded services such as state licenses, state employment, unemployment or disability benefits, and aid for university students to illegal aliens. The law also requires state agencies to notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security of illegal aliens who have applied for state services. (HB 638 ).
Pursuant to a provision contained in the law, Montana voters must approve the legislation this before it can take effect. Appearing on this November&’s ballot as Legislative Referendum 121 (“LR-121”), voters will be required to check one of two boxes indicating whether they are for or against the new law. If approved by a majority of voters, the law will take effect on January 1, 2013. (HB638 ).
Opponents of LR-121 say that it will be too costly to implement. (Billings Gazette, Oct. 09, 2012). However, HB 638&’s author, Representative David Howard, counters that “[n]o state agency testified against HB 638 during the legislative hearings and their cost estimate for complying with LR-121 was zero.” (Id.) Howard states that the measure is necessary to save tax dollars and discourage illegal aliens from making Montana their home. (Id.)
Last week, Congressional leadership finally spoke out regarding the Obama Administration&’s unprecedented actions to circumvent Congress. The criticism came in the form of a report released by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor that chronicles the Administration&’s power-grab through what he refers to as an “Imperial Presidency.” (See The Imperial Presidency Report, Oct. 2012) According to the report, President Obama has “attempted to garner legislative authority, failed, and then acted unilaterally in defiance. In other instances, the President…ignored Congress and its authority from the outset.” (Id.)
The report consists of forty examples of the President&’s deliberate circumvention of Congress, including two incidents illustrating the President&’s usurpation of federal immigration laws. (Id. at p. 20) The first is administrative amnesty, which was enacted through a series of memos from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton in 2011. Through these memos, President Obama has “systematically, on an ongoing basis, [blocked] illegal aliens from being placed into removal proceedings, already-initiated removal proceedings, and [ended] deportations for potentially large numbers of criminals aliens.” (Id.; see alsoFAIR Morton Memos Summary, Jan. 2012)
The second immigration-specific example in the report is President Obama&’s administrative implementation of the DREAM Act (what the Administration refers to as DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Despite the fact that Congress rejected the DREAM Act as recently as December of 2010, Secretary Napolitano nonetheless issued a memo in June announcing illegal aliens under thirty who meet certain criteria will be allowed to stay and work in the United States. (FAIR Legislative Update , June 19, 2012) The estimated 1.7 million illegal aliens who meet the criteria will be eligible for deferred action and work authorization “despite the fact that such deferred action is not authorized and under the law such individuals are subject to removal.” (See Report at p. 21, Oct. 2012)
The Administration initiated its backdoor amnesty programs despite President Obama&’s concession that he could not simply bypass Congress to implement the DREAM Act. “That,” he said, “[is] not how our democracy functions. That&’s not how our Constitution is written.” (National Journal , June 18, 2012) Illegal aliens granted work authorization under DACA will now be able to compete for jobs with the nation&’s 14.7% unemployed and underemployed individuals. (See BLS U-6 Unemployment Data , Sept. 2012)