WASHINGTON (June 15, 2012)—Texas leaders in Austin and Washington blasted the Obama administration’s announcement Friday that it will stop deporting and begin giving work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and who have since led law-abiding lives.
Under the rules announced Friday, illegal immigrants will avoid deportation and will be eligible for work permits if they arrived in the U.S. before age 16, are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military.
U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, said the plan violates the Constitution and is not legally valid.
“The President today announced his intention to break the law,” Carter said.
“Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution reads, ‘The Congress shall have the Power to…establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.’ Those laws are on the books, the President has refused to enforce them, and has now announced he will substitute his own personal law over that of the lawfully elected Representatives of the American people.”
“If this is allowed to stand, any President can ignore any law they choose in the future. A joint response by the House and Senate to this violation should be determined with the utmost gravity when Congress returns to Washington next week,” he said.
Gov. Rick Perry echoed Carter’s concerns, calling the change an “election-year tactic to bypass Congress and arbitrarily grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants (that) is another example of its blatant disregard for our Constitution, our rule of law and our democratic process.”
“This Administration has failed to provide a secure border, which is essential to national security, and is instead granting blanket amnesty to those who have broken our laws. Failed border security and immigration policies have created a magnet for those who came in the first place. It’s clear President Obama prefers to upend the rule of law, picking winners and losers, rather than work with Congress and the American people on a sustainable, long-term solution,” he said.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced what the administration is calling a “deferred action process” earlier Friday.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” she said.
“But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here,” she said.
Speaking to reporters later Friday, President Barack Obama said the change will “lift the shadow of deportation from these young people.”
“Now, let's be clear,” he said, “this is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people,” he said.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the decision to stop deporting younger illegal immigrants will make it more difficult to solve the country’s larger immigration problems and said he would reverse the policy if elected.
Romney said Friday that that the plight of illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children is "an important matter to be considered,” but he said Mr. Obama's decision will make finding a long-term solution more difficult.
During the Republican presidential primaries, Romney said he would veto the so-called DREAM Act that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who went to college or served in the military.