Congress off to bad start on immigration
In an expected, though disappointing, vote last week, conservative Republicans in the U.S. House undermined President Barack Obama’s efforts to act on the nation’s broken immigration system.
The House passed a $40 billion funding package for the Department of Homeland Security, but that package contained amendments that would defund the president’s executive orders delaying the deportation of millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. He acted because Congress wouldn’t. Those representatives who voted for this bill should finally come up with their own credible plan.
The exercise is political theater because the amendments within the House bill are unlikely to pass in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats are likely to stage a filibuster. President Obama also threatens a veto.
Only 26 Republicans were willing to join with Democrats to vote against one of the amendments to freeze the Obama administration’s 2012 program allowing some immigrants who entered the U.S. as children to stay.
Before Obama’s orders, the administration deported record numbers of immigrants, breaking up families in the process.
Oddly, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner claimed that undoing the president’s actions is not about deporting immigrants, but about punishing executive overreach. The actual intention could affect an estimated 5 million adults and children.
Meanwhile, House Republican leadership offers no viable alternatives to tackle the real issue: 11 million immigrants illegally living in the U.S. and contributing to the economy.
For nearly two years, the House has ignored a bipartisan Senate agreement that provides comprehensive immigration reform. That bill includes a lengthy, challenging path to citizenship for those individuals who wish to come out of hiding, play by the rules and become productive members of society.
When Congress refused to act, Obama did. Now Boehner and others call him “reckless.” That’s empty criticism.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that Republican control would lead to a functioning, cooperative government.
Two weeks in, Congress is off to a bad start.
Republican leaders should end this obsession with fighting the president.