President Obama is likely to unveil a plan for executive action on immigration as early as November 21, according to a source close to the White House. The plan includes expanding deferred action for illegal immigrants, which effectively grants amnesty for migrants brought into the country illegally as children.
The story about Obama’s amnesty plan was broken by Fox News on November 12.
In addition to granting amnesty to those who came into the United States illegally as children (action the administration has taken previously by means of the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals [DACA] memorandum on June 15, 2012) the new plan would reportedly grant amnesty to the parents of “anchor babies” — children who became U.S. citizens by being born here to mothers who entered the nation illegally. It would also grant amnesty to illegal immigrants who are the parents of legal permanent residents.
Fox News reported that this latter action could allow more than 4.5 million illegal immigrant adults with U.S.-born children to remain in the country.
Speaking on The Kelly File on Wednesday night, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is one of the Senate’s most vocal critics of the Obama administration’s immigration policies, said that immigration officers have said that if the administration’s plans are implemented, it will be “almost impossible” to enforce the law.
“This is action unilaterally by one person, the president of the United States, to legalize millions that Congress has explicitly refused to do.”
Sessions added that “executive amnesty” is really “a threat to constitutional order.”
The administration, however, refused to confirm what Fox News reported. After the story broke, a White House spokesperson said in a statement:
The President has not made a decision regarding the specific measures he will take to fix our broken immigration system. In fact, he has not yet received final recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security. As the President has said previously, he is committed to taking action before the end of the year.
During a press briefing held by Press Secretary Josh Earnest and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes in Naypyidaw, Burma, on Wednesday night (where the President had traveled to attend the East Asia Summit), Jim Acosta, CNN’s senior White House correspondent, asked Earnest if President Obama has already decided what he’s going to do about immigration “and is now just waiting to get back and decide when he’s going to do it.”
Earnest replied, in part:
The President has not made a final decision at this point about exactly what will be included in the administrative steps that he will take to try to address some of the problems associated with our broken immigration system.
As you know, the President is still planning to make some decisions and announce them prior to the end of this calendar year. That should be an indication to you that the President is nearing a final decision….
The President met very recently … with [Homeland Security] Secretary [Jeh] Johnson to discuss the status of that. And I would anticipate that the President will receive some final recommendations from the Secretary relatively soon, but certainly not before the conclusion of his trip to Asia.
Earnest did not hesitate to inject politics into his reply, countering Republican objections to the president’s announced intentions to use executive actions to implement his immigration program: “The fact that we’re in the lame duck session certainly hasn’t affected House Republicans’ decision to act quickly on the Keystone pipeline.”
Therefore, concluded Earnest, “There’s no reason the fact that the House is in lame duck session … should affect their ability or even interest in bringing to the floor bipartisan legislation [the “Gang of Eight” bill] that’s already passed the United States Senate to deal with immigration reform."
However, there is a reason why the House has not voted on S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, passed by the Senate on June 27, 2013. Typifying conservative congressional opposition to the bill was Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who said in a statement quoted by CNS News:
The Senate proposal offers amnesty to far more illegal immigrants than we thought. In addition to most of the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country, the bill offers to legalize the relatives of illegal immigrants outside the U.S. and even others who have already been deported back home. So current immigration laws are shredded.
Smith’s views were apparently shared by a considerable number of representatives, so that the Senate bill was not brought up for a vote, much to the chagrin of President Obama.
However, Obama will not take no for an answer. When Acosta asked Earnest if the president will wait until Congress is finished with the current session so he can see whether or not they act on immigration before going home in early December, Earnest replied:
No, it does not mean that the President will wait.…
Bringing to the floor a bipartisan Senate bill is something that we believe should happen. And if it does happen before the end of the year, the President would be happy to sign that bill in lieu of signing any of these executive actions that the President is considering.
As we noted in a recent article, in the November 6 edition of Fox and Friends, host Brian Kilmeade summarized Obama’s recent press conference statements as: “If you send a bill exactly like I want it, I’ll sign it.” When Kilmeade asked the guest on the program, Judge Andrew Napolitano, if it was within the president’s power to do something as massive as revolutionizing our immigration system by executive order, Napolitano replied:
Regrettably, it is within his power to do so. But, we are still a government of laws. We are still a constitutional republic. He has taken an oath to uphold the law. If he tells the Department of Homeland Security how to process people when they come into the country, he can do that. He runs the executive branch. But if he tells Homeland Security and Border Patrol: “Look the other way when the illegals come in,” that is violating his oath because it’s a failure to enforce the law and he took an oath to uphold the law. So if the practical effect of his executive order is the opposite of what the law requires, I hate to say this; the Republicans don’t want to do it and I understand why; he’s a candidate for impeachment.