Friday, January 16, 2015

Defunding the President’s Amnesty Plan

Our nation’s immigration system is broken. Millions of people have illegally crossed into our country through a porous border or overstayed visas with no repercussions. Meanwhile, those who attempt to come here legally are met with a massive bureaucracy, years of waiting, and are still unlikely to be approved.

President Obama’s selective enforcement of the law, including a decision late last year to give legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants without the consent of Congress is making this crisis worse not better. As history has shown, amnesty only encourages more individuals to break our immigration laws.

Worse than the specific policy, not enforcing laws on the books sets a bad precedent which undermines our constitutional form of government. Our founders intended the executive branch to enforce the law – not to rewrite or ignore the laws it does not like. If the President wants to change immigration law, he should seek support in Congress to pass legislation.

Last month, the House, the Senate, and the President agreed to a bill funding the government through September of this year with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security which was only funded through February. In doing so, we delayed debate on the President’s immigration executive orders until Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate.

Now we are making good on our promise to address the President’s overreach. This week, the House passed H.R. 240, the Homeland Security Appropriations bill – which would fully fund the department with five amendments. Two of these amendments would specifically prohibit appropriated funds or user fees from being used to enforce the President’s executive actions or similar programs.

Another amendment to the bill would make clear the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should stop putting the interests of unlawful immigrants ahead of legal immigrants. Due to the President’s amnesty actions, law-abiding immigrants, permanent residents, and U.S. citizens are waiting longer for service at USCIS centers including the Nebraska Service Center in Lincoln. For example, a replacement citizenship certificate is currently taking eight months or longer to process.

This issue is far from resolved, and our bill with amendments cannot become law without being passed by the Senate and signed by the President. We cannot solve this problem on our own. Solutions will require both sides to work through regular order to come to an agreement. However, stopping the President’s overreach would be an important first step in this process.

About the Author:

Congressman Adrian Smith from Nebraska serves on the Committee on Ways and Means. Congressional Rural Caucus (Chair), Congressional Rural Veterans Caucus (Chair), Modern Agriculture Caucus (Chair), Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, Congressional Western Caucus and Congressional General Aviation Caucus.

Smith has been noted for his consistent voting against tax increases, massive government bailouts, and in his opposition of the affordable healthcare act (aka ObamaCare) which is creating massive uncertainty for our nation's job creators. Smith, a co-sponsor of the Balanced Budget Amendment and a supporter of a Congressional earmark moratorium, has earned a reputation as a solid conservative through his votes to protect the rights of gun owners, efforts to limit the scope of government, and his strong pro-life voting record.

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