South Florida Congressman Tom Rooney is co-sponsoring a bill that would
prohibit President Obama from granting some young undocumented immigrants a
two-year stay of deportation without the consent of Congress.
The attempt by Rooney, R-Tequesta, has almost no chance of passing the Congress as a whole, although it could be approved by the GOP-controlled House, where many members see the newly announced immigration policy as an Obama election year tactic to curry favor with Latino voters. The Senate, controlled by Democrats, will almost certainly kill the Rooney-sponsored bill.
Friday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that undocumented people who had arrived in the U.S. before age 16, are still 30 or younger, have spent five consecutive years in the U.S. and have legal records clear of serious offenses can apply for two years of deferred action on deportation and apply for work permits. Both those permissions can be renewed.
The directive by Napolitano follows guidelines originally contained in the Dream Act, a bill that has failed to pass the Congress, despite three tries. A major difference between the Obama administration directive and the original bill is the new measure does not provide recipients with a path to U.S. citizenship, but Latino voters who have responded to polls in recent days still overwhelmingly approved of the new directive.
Rooney and U.S. Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Arizona, co-sponsored the bill that would prohibit Napolitano from enforcing the directive.
"President Obama is once again sidestepping the Constitution, ignoring the proper role of Congress and putting his reelection prospects ahead of his responsibilities to the American people," Rooney said. "Regardless of your position on the Dream Act, the constitution gives Congress and only Congress the authority to legislate and it gives the president the responsibility to enforce the laws of the land. The president can't ignore the constitution every time he thinks something is 'the right thing to do.'"
Rooney said that in issuing the directive Obama contradicted his own statement, made Sept. 28, when he told supporters of the Dream Act that "this notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true."
"As the President himself said last year, he cannot change the laws unilaterally, he has to enforce the laws on the books, and this kind of executive action does a disservice the goal of passing comprehensive immigration reform," Rooney said.
Rooney's position mirrors that of presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and of Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a possible running mate of Romney, both of whom have criticized the Obama move as a short-term solution to a long-term problem and as a way sidestepping the Congress.
Rubio earlier this year had proposed his own version of the Dream Act, one that closely resembles the Obama administration directive but did not restrict the deferred deportation action to two years. After the Obama administration announcement Friday, Rubio said he was shelving his project.
"When the president ignores the Congress, ignores the Constitution and forces a policy like this down the throat of the American people, it's going to make it harder to have a conversation like that," Rubio said. "It's going to make it harder to elevate the debate."
Meanwhile Romney has said if elected he would press for a more permanent solution, but has not given details.
Romney finds himself caught between the conservative base of his party, which wants strict enforcement of immigration laws, and Latino voters who could decide close contests in November in key states, such as Florida, Arizona and Colorado.
Even before Friday's announcement, Romney was trailing Obama in polls of Latinos 67 to 27 percent, according to PEW Research Center poll conducted in May. But Latino political pundits were saying that some Latino voters might stay home, unhappy with Obama over lack of progress on comprehensive immigration reform and on the DREAM Act, and angry at the record number of deportations in the first three years of his term -- 1.1 million.
Latino organizations, including America's Voice, say their polling in the days since the Friday announcement days shows an upswing in enthusiasm for Obama among Latinos.
A Bloomberg poll, conducted since the announcement, found of all likely U.S. voters, 64 percent backed the new policy and 30 percent oppose it. By party, 86 percent of Democrats support the measure, while only 36 percent of Republicans do. Independents favor the directive 66 to 26 percent.
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women