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Immigration Daily Comments On Letter From Twenty Republican Senators To The President

by Immigration Daily

Editor's Note: The text of this letter was transcribed from the original letter sent by Senator Grassley and signed by 19 Republican senators. We apologize for any typographical and formatting errors. The original letter can be found here.

June 19, 2012

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama:

We are extremely concerned by your announcement last week that the Department of Homeland Security plans to implement a program that grants deferred action to an untold number of illegal immigrants in the United States, and to allow them to receive work authorization during this time of record unemployment.  Not only do we question your legal authority to act unilaterally in this regard, we are frustrated that you have intentionally bypassed Congress and the American people.

Immigration Daily Comment: What does a time of record unemployment or a time of record employment have to do with giving documents to undocumented Americans? And the solution to your frustration is entirely in your hands: enact the DREAM Act! 

As President, you swore to uphold and defend the Constitution and enforce the laws. Your recently announced directive runs contrary to that responsibility.  Not only is your directive an affront to our system of representative government and the legislative process, but it is an inappropriate use of Executive power.

Your position on whether you have the legal authority to act unilaterally has changed dramatically. Just last year, you personally disputed the notion that the Executive Branch could act on its own and grant benefits to a certain class of illegal immigrants.  Specifically, you stated,

"This notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just true. The fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think there's been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the DREAM Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It’s just not true. We live in a democracy. You have to pass bills through the legislature, and then I can sign it."

Immigration Daily Comment: We agree with the Senators. Mr. Obama, the Deporter-in-Chief saw the light on legal authority for DREAM benefits entirely due to political reasons.

  • Why has your position on the legal authority of the Executive Branch changed?

  • Did you consult with attorneys prior to the announcement about your legal authority to grant deferred action and work authorizations to a specific class of illegal immigrants?

  • Did you obtain a legal opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel or anyone else in the administration about your legal authority to implement such a program?

  • Please provide copies of any documentation, including any and all legal opinions, memoranda, and emails, that discusses any authority you have or do not have to undertake this immigration directive.

Letter to President Obama, June 19, 2012

We are also concerned that the directive being implemented allows individuals under the age of 30 to obtain a work authorization.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for young adults aged 16-24  has been nearly 17% for the last year.  According to a Gallup poll conducted  in April of this year, 32% of 18 to 29 year-olds  in the U.S. workforce were underemployed.   Your directive runs contrary to the premise that American  workers must come before foreign nationals. It is astonishing  that your administration would grant work authorizations  to illegal immigrants during this time of record unemployment.  Your directive will only increase competition  for American  students and workers who struggle to find employment  in today's  economy.  Moreover, under current law, some foreign students  and other legal visa olders arc prohibited from obtaining work  authorizations,  giving illegal immigrants  an advantage over those who play by the rules.

Immigration Daily Comment: It is ironic that the 20 Republican Senators are channeling Karl Marx, and we encourage President Obama to extoll the virtues of the free market to these 20 socialists. And Americans, whether documented or not, should always be treated better than foreigners, regardless of whether these foreigners play by the rules or not. 

The implementation of your directive raises several serious questions.

  • What will happen if your directive is challenged  in court?

    Immigration Daily Comment: Why don’t you 20 folks sue and find out! 

  • Will individuals  who have applied for deferred action be required to leave the U.S. if such a challenge is upheld?

  • How will the administration handle family members, specifically  the parents who violated federal immigration law?

  • Will individuals  who entered the U.S. on their own volition    either by crossing the border illegally or overstaying a visa- be eligible for deferred action?

  • Why does the directive allow individuals up to age 30 to benefit from deferred action if the directive is aimed at helping young people and students?

    Immigration Daily Comment: These 20 Republican Senators know full well the answer to this question which, of course, is that the directive is aimed at helping those who ENTERED the country AS children, that is, by merely following their parents direction.

  • How will federal officials  who process the applications  ensure that information provided by the individual  is accurate and how will they verify that one truly entered the country before the age of 16 or are currently under the age of 30?

  • Will evidence submitted in support of deferred action applications be limited to independently  verifiable  government-issued documents (e.g., school records,  W-2s, tax returns)?  If not, why not?  If affidavits will be accepted,  will they be required to be made under penalty of perjury?   lf not, why not?

    Immigration Daily Comment: The evidence should be that customarily used in immigration cases, and perhaps relaxed a little bit so that these undocumented Americans can quickly get the benefits without being subject to petty bureaucratic nit-picking. 

  • Will illegal immigrants be required to appear in person for an interview  by the federal government  before deferred action is granted?

  • How will the agency implementing the program ensure that fraud and abuse is prevented?

    Immigration Daily Comment: What measures do the 20 Republican Senators propose to ensure that the agency swiftly delivers employment benefits to these undocumented Americans and measures do they propose to punish those who stand in the way of swift delivery?

  • What will the consequences be for individuals  who intentionally defraud the government?

    Immigration Daily Comment: The laws are already on the statute books, read the law, O Senators.

  • Which databases will be used and how will background checks be conducted  to ensure that individuals do not have a criminal history or pose a threat to public safety?

  • What would constitute  a “significant” misdemeanor offense, which is one of the criteria for eligibility  for deferred status?

  • Will individuals with final orders of removal be eligible for deferred  action?

  • What action will the administration take if an individual is denied deferred action?

  • What action will be taken if an individual is granted deferred action, but subsequently abuses that grant, is arrested,  is found to be a member of a criminal  gang, or does not actually attend school?

Letter  to President Obama, June 19, 2012

  • Absent congressional action, what will happen in two years to the individuals who arc granted deferred action?

  • Will recipients of deterred action be eligible for receipt of advance parole?

  • What criteria will be used to decide who gets work authorizations and who does not?

  • Which other departments and agencies will be consulted and will work with the Department of Homeland Security on the implementation of this directive?

We also believe that taxpayers deserve to know how this program will be funded.

  • Can you assure us that the total implementation cost of the program will be paid for by the individuals seeking to benefit, or will U.S. taxpayers subsidize any part of the program?

  • How much, if anything, will an illegal immigrant be required to pay in order to obtain deferred action?

  • What legal authority does the Executive Branch have to mandate a fee for this service? We understand that the Department has never previously charged a fee for the processing of a request for deferred action.

    Immigration Daily Comment: We agree with the implication of these 20 Republican Senators that the USCIS may not have statutory authority to impose a fee for deferred action.

  • Do you plan to reprogram funds at the Department of Homeland Security or any other Executive Branch agency to help fund the implementation of the directive?

    Immigration Daily Comment: This is obviously the key. Realistically, ICE and CBP personnel will have to be drafted en masse to assist USCIS staff in ensuring that large quantities of beneficiaries are swiftly delivered benefits.

  • If you plan to use funds that already have been appropriated or other funds from the Department, please explain which programs will be reduced in order to cover the costs associated with the directive.

  • If USCIS adjudications staff will be diverted from their normal duties to handle the millions of potential deferred action applications, what will be the impact on other USCIS programs?

Given that this directive is effective immediately and that many questions remain unanswered, we ask that you immediately make available Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Director Alejandro Mayorkas to respond to our concerns.

We would appreciate responses to our questions, including any relevant documentation related to this directive, no later than July 3, 2012.

Immigration Daily Comment: We encourage Mr. Obama to defer sending over senior DHS staff until the program implementation is well under way. Getting the program implemented should obviously be given priority over this letter, since this letter is purely an act of political showmanship, without any legislative intent. If these folks are truly concerned about these questions, they have a ready remedy at hand: begin discussing the DREAM Act on the Senate floor!




Immigration Daily Comment: Now that these folks have conveniently set forth their names to live evermore in infamy, we encourage DREAMERs to let their views be known to these 20 Senators.

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The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.