National Immigration Law Center
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House Considers Anti-Immigrant Bills

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2014

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, delatorre@nilc.org, 213-400-7822


House Leaders Take Tone-Deaf Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Obamacare Approach to a New Level

House refuses to fix broken immigration system and instead targets immigrants, in search of problems that do not exist

WASHINGTON — In their continuing attack on the most vulnerable members of society, including immigrants, members of the U.S. House of Representatives are considering two bills that would challenge the president’s executive authority and needlessly set up a major constitutional debate.

The chamber is considering the ENFORCE Act (HR 4138) and the Faithful Execution of the Law Act (HR 3973). These bills were devised by conservatives intent on blocking commonsense immigration reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that is creating access to affordable health care for millions of Americans.

The legislation would limit any president’s executive authority and would permit the House or the Senate to sue the executive branch if Congress thinks the White House is not fully executing laws passed by Congress. Sponsors cited President Obama’s implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and management of Obamacare as reasons to rein in his authority. The following is a statement by Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

“From a legal standpoint, the bills raise constitutional issues regarding the separation-of-powers principles laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Conservatives who are promoting these bills falsely claim the president has ignored congressional action when, in fact, the president has exercised his discretionary authority.

“The DACA program, for example, is not a wholesale, nonenforcement of immigration law with regard to DREAMers, but has deferred action on a case-by-case basis, well within the constitutional authority of the executive branch. Indeed, we continue to argue that the administration has many more administrative tools it can and should employ to curb record-breaking deportations.

“We aren’t alone in this analysis. Nearly one hundred legal scholars signed a letter to President Obama in 2012 outlining the president’s legal authority to provide relief from deportation and work authorization to immigrants.

“With regard to health care, the president is working towards implementation of the Affordable Care Act, not trying to end it.

“In truth, today’s activities represent not a legal dispute but an immoral attempt by House leadership to pander to extremists in its ranks and offer up more House votes against immigrants and Obamacare. A key sponsor has acknowledged that these bills will not advance in the Senate, just as the House’s previous effort to defund DACA—the only other vote on immigration the House has taken—did not advance.

“It’s time to stop debasing our democracy and end the politics of polarization. Instead of wasting time on anti-immigrant legislation, Congress should restore honor to its branch of government and do the job it was elected to do: resolve national problems through legislation. Congress must enact commonsense immigration reform or face voters’ ire at the polls in 2014 and 2016.”

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