By Benjamin Goad - 05/06/14 05:15 PM EDT
Sen. Charles Grassley accused President Obama on Tuesday of exceeding his authority, after the administration unveiled a new slate of proposed regulations that would relax restrictions on foreign workers and their spouses.
Grassley (Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested that the president is on shaky legal ground in revamping immigration policy via executive action.
“The Obama administration claims it wants immigration reform, but they can’t wait for Congress. They act on their own,” Grassley said during a speech on the Senate floor, according to prepared remarks.
“What’s next?” he demanded. “Will the president unilaterally legalize the undocumented population because he can’t have his way with Congress?”
Grassley’s remarks followed the Department of Homeland Security’s proposal earlier Tuesday of regulations that would allow spouses of foreign workers with H-1B visas to take jobs in the United States as part of a slate of new draft immigration regulations.
The draft rules also would make it easier for highly skilled workers from certain countries to remain in the U.S.
But Grassley said it is the job of Congress to set limits on the number of H-IB visas available each year to foreign workers. Current law puts that number at 85,000. Grassley, citing DHS estimates, said the rule change would allow more than 97,000 people to obtain employment authorization in the first year alone.
“While we’re all interested in attracting the best and the brightest foreign workers to the United States, the Obama administration clearly doesn’t seem concerned with the millions of unemployed Americans, and those who have been forced out of their jobs because companies prefer to hire lower-paid workers from abroad,” Grassley said.
The rules will be published soon in the Federal Register starting the clock on a public comment period meant to solicit feedback on the plan before final regulations are issued.