Reaction to President Obama’s move to protect some illegal immigrants from deportation fells along political fault lines.
Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin called it “just fairness, equity and human rights” that illegal immigrants who came to the country before they were 16 and pose no criminal or security threat should get a two-year deferral from deportation.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley called the president’s action “an affront to the process of representative government by circumventing Congress.”
And GOP Rep. Steve King threatened to sue the president to halt its implementation.
“I will tell you that — I’m not without experience on this — I’m prepared to bring a suit and seek a court order to stop implementation of this policy,” King said June 15 on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s radio program. King successfully sued then-Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, over an executive order.
Obama announced the Department of Homeland Security will take steps “to lift the shadow of deportation” from hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants who were brought to this as children.
“Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization,” he said.
Obama defended his “temporary” action, citing congressional inaction on the issue. He went on to urge lawmaker to approve a more permanent solution such as the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform.
It’s not amnesty, immunity or a pathway to citizenship, but “a temporary stopgap measure” granting a “degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people,” Obama said. “It is the right thing to do.”
Harkin applauded the action
“It just seems a violation of human rights, unfair, for a child — who has been brought here illegally by parents or others, who had no choice in the matter, but who has grown up here and who is going to school here — to just be summarily deported,” he said during his Friday conference call with reporters.
He was doubtful the DREAM Act could be passed over Republican objections.
Grassley questioned whether the president had the legal authority to make the move.
“The president once denied that he had the legal authority to do this, and Congress was assured more than once that the administration would consider individuals for this sort of deferred status on a case-by-case basis only, and that there was no plan to implement a broad-based program,” he said. “It seems the president has put election-year politics above responsible policies.”
The Obama re-election campaign has made no secret of its intent to increase support from Hispanic voters.
Americans, King said, should be outraged Obama is planning to “usurp the Constitutional authority of the United States Congress.”
“The American people have rejected amnesty because it will erode the Rule of Law,” he said. “In much the same way, I believe the American people will reject President Obama for his repeated efforts to violate the Constitutional separation of powers.”