Last Friday the Obama administration announced that it would ease enforcement of current immigration deportation guidelines to allow certain young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to apply for work permits, effectively bypassing Congress. The Congress, of course, hates being bypassed. It makes small and insignificant elected officials look small and insignificant. Take Congressman Lamar Smith, who immediately responded to the policy change in a same-day op-ed (no doubt activated by the emergency anti-immigration press release template) blasting the president for granting amnesty to potentially millions of immigrants. If you look in the Republican dictionary, the definition of “immigration” is “amnesty.” The definition of “amnesty” is “terrorist plots carried out by well-trained anchor babies.” Don’t even get them started on “backdoor amnesty.”
“The administration’s amnesty policy…is a magnet for fraud,” Smith said. “Many illegal immigrants will falsely claim they came here as children or are under the age of 30 and the federal government has no way to check whether their claims are true.” He’s right. How could an amateur government agency like the Department of Homeland Security possibly tell if a 50-year- old man is trying to pass himself off as a tween by sporting a Justin Bieber t-shirt?
Not surprisingly most Texas Republicans had similar reactions, according to the Houston Chronicle. Congressman Ted Poe likened the change to an “imperial decree,” making the president sound somewhat Darth Vader-ish. Congressman Michael Burgess called it a “reckless decision” and Congressman Kenny Marchant called it “appalling.” If you’re being called imperial, reckless and appalling by the Texas congressional delegation, you know you’re doing something right.
But it’s really Lamar Smith who has taken this on as his own personal crusade. In a letter to the president on Wednesday, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee complained that the administration’s decision “raises serious constitutional questions about the legitimacy of the policy.” Smith is asking for “any legal opinions from the Justice Department regarding what authority the Administration has to impose immigration policies without congressional approval.” Lucky for Smith, the House is already holding Attorney General Eric Holder hostage so that should make the interrogation much easier.
As with any hot-button issue, you can’t fully analyze the pros and cons without considering the Gohmert angle. Appearing on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this week, Congressman Louie Gohmert expressed grave concern that the president’s latest move is simply “another incentive to come in here illegally and vote for [him] illegally.” He’s right. Most undocumented immigrants can’t wait to show up to the polls.
Gohmert did say, however, that he “really sees the Hispanic culture as being able to get us back to embracing the things that made us great.” The congressman is also sensitive to the needs of the African-American community. When a listener called in wanting to know why there is a Congressional Black Caucus but not a Congressional White Caucus, Gohmert responded that there would never be a Congressional White Caucus because “there’d be too much fussin’” but quickly added that it would be a bad idea. Hopefully he doesn’t find out that there’s a Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
According to statistics from the Immigration Policy Center, more than 16 percent of Texans are foreign born. Forty-one percent of immigrants are Latino or Asian and 32 percent are eligible to vote. Over 87 percent of children in Texas with immigrant parents are U.S. citizens. No wonder the Republicans are terrified.