Congress should represent Americans — not illegal aliens

Congress should represent Americans — not illegal aliens
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In the next several weeks, there is a real possibility that the federal government will face a shutdown. Part of the reason for this latest episode of budgetary brinkmanship is Congress’s general inability to get just about anything done these days. But part of it is due to overt threats from the minority party to hold the federal government hostage to their one overriding political demand: unconditional amnesty for upwards of three million illegal aliens.

The threats began back in September after the Trump administration announced its intention to terminate President Obama’s (likely unconstitutional) Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In a joint press conference with House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi28 Senate Democrats sign statement urging Israel-Hamas ceasefire Lawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats House Republican: 'Absolutely bogus' for GOP to downplay Jan. 6 MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) stated unambiguously, “If a clean DREAM Act does not come to the floor in September, we are prepared to attach it to other items this fall until it passes.” Schumer’s statement made it clear that his party’s objective is not limited to the 700,000 current DACA beneficiaries, but encompasses an estimated 3.4 million illegal aliens who would qualify for amnesty under the DREAM Act.

The bill that the Democrats are targeting is the mother of all congressional legislation: a massive omnibus spending bill. And the deadline is looming. Unless a spending package is approved before the Christmas recess, much of the federal government could go dark.


As troubling as a government shutdown is, even more troubling is the issue over which it may be brought to a screeching halt. The DREAM Act is a narrow piece of legislation that benefits a group of people who are in the country either because they broke the law, or their parents broke the law. In one form or another, the bill has been floating around Congress since 2000 and was actually defeated in the Senate in 2010 (when Democrats were in control of Congress and the White House). But that was before the Democratic Party invested all of its political hopes and dreams in amnesty and mass immigration.


Ironically, the gauntlet of a government shutdown is not being thrown down over an issue of intractable political differences. Congressional Republicans have said they are willing to consider some sort of permanent status for current DACA beneficiaries. So has the White House. The differences lie in the fact that President Trump and most congressional Republicans have set down certain conditions for a deal.

First, the administration and most GOP lawmakers want to limit a legalization program to those people who qualified for President Obama’s offer and availed themselves of the opportunity, not all 3.4 million people believed to have entered the country illegally as minors.

Second, the White House has issued a list of legislative requirements that would protect the interests of the American people — a constituency that, at least theoretically, both parties are supposed to serve. These requirements include things that both parties have promised but failed to deliver, including enhanced border security, protection of American jobs, ending dangerous sanctuary policies, and creating a merit-based legal immigration system.

In other words, if the government shuts down, it will be because one side was willing to sacrifice the interests of 325 million Americans in order to gain unconditional amnesty for 3.4 million illegal aliens. Moreover, if the Republican leadership and the White House cave-in to demands for including a “clean” DREAM Act amnesty in the budget bill, then they must bear responsibility for having acceded to what amounts to political blackmail.

To be clear, Congress has no legal or ethical obligation to grant amnesty to anyone who violated our immigration laws, or who knowingly put their children in legal limbo. We, as a nation, out of kindness and generosity, may choose to grant forgiveness to those who have enjoyed benefits and protections under the DACA program. Congress — and that includes members of both political parties — has a constitutional obligation to faithfully act in the best interests of the nation and the American people who elected them. There is no more fundamental obligation of their offices than approving the funding necessary to maintain the effective operation of the government.

We will know, in the next week, whether either party can be counted on to put national interests ahead of their own narrow political ones.

Ira Mehlman is media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).