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Defunding the President’s Amnesty Plan

January 16, 2015

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.