House Republicans on Friday accused the Obama administration of making a “blatant attempt” to provide amnesty to illegal immigrants with changes to deportation rules.
Under the new rules announced Thursday, officials at the Department of Homeland Security will perform case-by-case reviews of those in line for deportation, weeding out violent criminals and other high-priority cases while closing the books on those considered no threat.
“This new non-enforcement policy announced by the Obama Administration Thursday is a blatant attempt to grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal aliens in this country.”
The Obama administration said the rule changes are intended to refocus deportation resources on “public safety threats,” rather than on every individual who is in the country illegally.
The move was cheered by many immigration activists, who argued that the previous deportation rules had affected the elderly, victims of crime, college students and nearly lifelong U.S. residents who should not face deportation.
But Republicans said the move was equivalent to bypassing Congress and unilaterally instituting an amnesty program.
King and Miller called the policy “totally unacceptable.”
“This decision to vastly expand the exercise of ‘prosecutorial discretion’ in enforcing our federal immigration laws means that the Administration will now be, in a huge number of cases, simply ignoring those laws,” they said.
In his own release, Rep. Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.) said the move was “inconsistent with the administration’s rhetoric that additional resources to combat illegal immigration are not needed.”
Flake, who has supported more-lenient immigration reform in the past, now argues that current conditions on the Mexican border necessitate stronger immigration enforcement.
“On one hand, you have the Obama administration claiming that the border is safer than ever and additional resources to combat illegal immigration are not needed, and on the other you have the administration claiming that they don’t have the resources to prosecute all illegal immigrants,” Flake said.
A variant of the policy, known as the DREAM Act, has been stalled in Congress for nearly a decade. The DREAM Act would provide conditional permanent residency to illegal immigrants who had not committed crimes and either obtained a college degree or served in the U.S. military. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has estimated that under that plan, some 100,000 to 200,000 people could earn American citizenship.
King was an outspoken opponent of the act, which passed the House but ultimately stalled in the Senate.
“This is an out-of-control immigration path,” King told Newsmax last year. “We need to ... limit it to direct family members [of U.S. citizens].”