Will Congress rein in the president's immigration lawlessness?
President Obama is running a massive illegal operation that has issued 5.5 million work permits never authorized by Congress, according to a disturbing new report from the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies.
The report comes as Congress prepares to vote today on legislation that would reverse some of Obama's executive overreaches that reward illegal aliens with lawful status for breaking the nation's immigration laws.
The report also comes as Republicans grapple with profoundly disturbing comments made by the president's nominee to replace Attorney General Eric Holder. Loretta Lynch, currently U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said at her confirmation hearing last week that she believes illegal aliens possess the same legal right to work in the U.S. as American citizens possess. This is tantamount to a promise to refuse to enforce the immigration laws of the United States and an in-your-face demonstration that Lynch isn't qualified to carry out parking ticket prosecutions in Flatbush, let alone head up the U.S. justice system.
There is no reason to believe Lynch would be perturbed by the existence of Obama's shadowy visa-issuing operation. She doesn't, after all, care about the rule of law, at least as it pertains to immigration and border security.
The scheme uncovered by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) "is a huge parallel immigrant work authorization system outside the limits set by Congress that inevitably impacts opportunities for U.S. workers, damages the integrity of the immigration system, and encourages illegal immigration," according to Jessica M. Vaughan, CIS's director of policy studies.
CIS uncovered the existence of the Obama scheme by obtaining statistics from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA). The data indicated that approximately 5.5 million new work permits were given to aliens from 2009 to 2014, over and above the quantity of new green card and temporary worker admissions in that five-year period.
Approximately 1.8 million new work permits were given to aliens with temporary visas or those who entered under the Visa Waiver Program, the report said. Of these, around 1.2 million, or 67 percent, had a visa status that does not entitle the bearer to engage in employment in the U.S.
"For example, more than 470,000 work permits were issued to aliens on tourist visas and 532,000 were issued to foreign students," the report states. "More than 156,000 were issued to dependents of students and guestworkers, all in categories not authorized for employment by law."
Approximately 982,000 new work permits were processed in the five-year period for illegal aliens or aliens unqualified for admission to the United States. Of these, 957,000 were aliens who entered the country unlawfully. "Inexplicably, 1,200 new work permits were issued to aliens who were denied asylum, were suspected of using fraudulent documents, were stowaways, or were refused at a port of entry," the report said.
And 1.7 million employment authorizations were issued to aliens whose status was not determined or not provided by USCIS.
"This should be a concern; work permits are gateway documents to driver's licenses and other benefits, and if the government agency issuing them does not know or will not disclose how the bearer arrived in the country how can others rely on the authenticity of an individual's identity?" writes Vaughan. "It is equally disconcerting if the government does know and chooses not to disclose it."
The report comes as the Senate prepares for a key procedural vote today that would move legislation forward that is aimed at halting President Obama's extra-legal amnesty for 5 million illegals.
The parliamentary maneuver that would defund the hugely unpopular amnesty plan that Obama unveiled two weeks after his party was shellacked in the November congressional elections is somewhat complicated.
In the lame duck session of Congress that occupied the closing days of 2014, lawmakers voted to fund most of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the end of this month. At the same time they blocked funding that would allow USCIS, a division of DHS, from carrying out the amnesty. The thinking was that lawmakers in the previous Congress could avoid a partial government shutdown before the old, divided Congress wrapped up and would deal with the issue in the new year when Republicans would have complete control of the legislative branch.
Conservative critics say Obama's amnesty blueprint rewards illegals for breaking the law and that it amounts to a taxpayer-supported voter-mobilization effort for the Democratic Party. Some conservatives support the bill approved by the newly seated House last month that new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants the Senate to begin working on today.
McConnell said presidents have to be enforce laws whether they like them or not.
"Will our Democrat colleagues work with us to defend key democratic ideals like separation of powers and the rule of law, or will they stand tall for the idea that partisan exercises of raw power are good things?" McConnell said Friday.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) used the opportunity to taunt Republicans and misrepresent the facts. "The Republicans are more frightened by DREAMers (undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children) than by ISIS," Durbin said. "I welcome the debate."
President Obama got involved in the debate by scaremongering during a visit to DHS offices yesterday. "Don't jeopardize our national security over this disagreement," Obama urged Congress.
The House bill was approved by that chamber in mid-January in a lopsided vote of 236 to 191. At the time Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said lawmakers were serious about reversing Obama's actions.
"We do not take this action lightly but, simply, there is no alternative. This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and the Constitution itself. What we're dealing with is a president who had ignored the people and ignored the Constitution, including his own past statements."
Conservatives have a hard time taking Boehner at his word. Of course, he could have fought against the amnesty plan during the lame duck session of Congress but instead he punted. Boehner supports amnesty but has been taking heat from members of his own party. To appease critics he recently announced a new plan in which House Republicans would to sue the Obama administration to challenge the constitutionality of the president's executive actions on amnesty. There is no guarantee the courts would hear the case, especially since the Constitution already makes it plain that the proper remedy for stopping an unconstitutional program is for lawmakers to invoke the power of the purse and deprive it of funding. The lawsuit is bread and circuses intended to distract the party's conservative base.
Meanwhile, the measure the Senate is supposed to take up overturns Obama's executive actions of late 2014 that shielded millions of illegal aliens, and also undermines the 2012 action that stays removal proceedings against underage illegals. If the bill fails to be enacted by month's end, parts of DHS may have to temporarily close their doors for lack of funding. The prospect of any kind of government shutdown, no matter how minor and insignificant, terrifies congressional GOP leadership, so they will likely maneuver to prevent a shutdown from happening, even if it means giving away the store.
Vaughan has stopped short of endorsing the bill but said it gives Congress "an opportunity this week to prevent the issuance of the next five million work permits if it votes to withhold funds for USCIS to implement President Obama's executive action plans."
White House Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Muñoz, formerly a senior official with the radical left-wing pressure group National Council of La Raza, said last month Obama would veto the bill if it reaches his desk. "At the end of the day, we're confident we're going to be implementing these executive orders," Muñoz told reporters.
Given the recent behavior of Republican officeholders, Muñoz has every reason to be confident.
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