Weekly Columns

It’s Time for the President to Put Down His Pen

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Washington, February 25, 2015 | Tiffany Haverly (202-226-8072) | comments

Last November, President Obama took executive action to make controversial, unprecedented changes to our nation’s immigration system - despite making earlier claims that he was ‘not a king’ and could not move unilaterally on immigration reform. Moving forward with his plan for executive amnesty, the president blatantly ignored the outrage of the American people and warnings from myself and other members of Congress that he was poisoning the well for real immigration reform.

Instead of working with Congress to secure the border, the White House is instead allowing certain illegal immigrants - who have been in America more than five years - to avoid deportation as long as they register, pass a background check and pay taxes. This is estimated to extend legal protection to nearly 5 million immigrants who came to the United States illegally. Perhaps most troubling is the fact President Obama claimed he could not legally take such action without Congressional approval more than twenty times.

An estimated 124,000 illegal immigrants are believed to live in Tennessee. Tennesseans are keenly aware of the need to reform our nation’s immigration system, but changes to law must be made through Congress – not the president’s “pen and phone.” This is why I laid out my five key principles for immigration reform last December. The president’s executive actions don’t even begin to address any of these issues I raised, and I strongly believe the president must be stopped. 

In December, the House passed a spending bill to fund the federal government, except the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency in charge of implementing the president’s executive amnesty, for the full fiscal year. The bill was signed into law by President Obama and only funded DHS until the end of February. Because we knew it was imperative to fund homeland security operations, in January the House acted once again, sending the Senate a bill to fund DHS. This bill included an important provision that would prohibit any funding from being used to implement President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. This should have allowed for plenty of time to consider this issue, but now, more than a month later, there’s still no resolution and Senate Democrats have refused four times to allow debate on the House-passed bill.

Make no mistake – if funding lapses for the Department, it will be because the president and Senate Democrats chose to change the law – as the president himself has said – like a “king” would do it. It would be reckless and irresponsible to shut down the Department of Homeland Security during a time of increasing global unrest, but the president’s allies in the Senate – even some who claim to oppose the president’s immigration actions - refuse to restore the law as it existed on November 19, 2014 – less than three months ago and two weeks after the American people sent a clear message at the polls that they expected a different direction for the country.

East Tennesseans have spoken loud and clear about their desire to reverse this executive amnesty, and I am committed to fighting for their voice to be heard in Washington. My position isn’t changing and I refuse to back down. President Obama could stop this uncertainty by simply putting down his pen and agreeing to work with Congress on true immigration reform. Instead, his reckless style of running this country has once again put the American people at risk. Where does it stop?

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