Nativist politicians want to thwart Obama’s executive action on immigration

Lauren Taylor • Jul 03, 2014

In response to President Obama’s speech Monday, nativist politicians and leaders continued to blame him for the increase in children fleeing violence in Central America. They accused the president of over-stepping his constitutional powers and failing to enforce existing immigration laws.

During his speech, the president acknowledged the failure of immigration reform – blaming hardliners in the Republican Party for failing “to pass a darn bill.” Saying “America cannot not wait forever for them to act.”

He announced plans to increase border enforcement, and again solicited advice from the Department of Homeland Security and the Attorney General on his options for executive action on immigration:

“I’ve also directed Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Holder to identify additional actions my administration can take on our own, within my existing legal authorities to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as much of our immigration system as we can. If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours. I expect the recommendations before the end of the summer, and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay.”

The anti-immigrant movement and affiliated politicians have largely ignored the administration’s moves to ramp up border enforcement. Instead, they have continued to accuse the administration of lax enforcement and executive overreach.

“If the President insists on enacting amnesty by executive order, he will undoubtedly face a lawsuit” said Representative Lamar Smith of Texas. “And [he] will find himself, once again, on the wrong side of the Constitution and the law.”

Nativist leaders continue to blame the president for the increase in children fleeing violence in Central America and are leveraging this refugee crisis to block any attempts at administrative relief or reform.

The Republican Speaker of the House repeated anti-immigrant talking points: “The president’s own executive orders have led directly to the humanitarian crisis along the Southern border,” accused Boehner. “Additional executive action from this president isn’t going to stem the tide of illegal crossings, it’s only going to make them worse.”

Contrary to the facts, Boehner asserts that the 2012 administrative relief program known as DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has caused the increase in children arriving, even though it applies only to young people who arrived prior to Jun 2007. Research from the United Nations has shown that while causes are complex, the majority of children arriving at the border are forced to flee because of conditions in their home countries.

Nativist politicians like Smith and Rep. Bob Goodlatte have echoed Boehner’s faulty logic and taken the lead in efforts to block executive action on immigration and attack Obama.

On Monday afternoon, Representative Goodlatte released a statement in response to the president’s speech: “By threatening more unilateral actions this summer while failing to address the issue of border security, President Obama will only worsen the crisis at the border and will further undermine Americans’ faith in the President’s ability to lead.”

Established anti-immigrant organizations have held up the statements of Smith and Goodlatte and reprinted them in their own publications. A recent FAIR legislative update email highlighted House Judiciary Committee hearings that gave a platform for nativist speakers.

In a more pointed response to the president’s speech, Dan Stein, president of the flagship organization of the contemporary anti-immigrant movement, called Obama’s Monday speech “brazen and unapologetic.”

Stein’s statement reveals an impressive lack of reflexivity. The anti-immigrant movement has seized upon young refugees as its latest excuse to attack the president and obstruct anything but enforcement. Those with more sense – and empathy – would do well to recognize this rhetoric for what it is; continued obfuscation and obstruction.

Lauren Taylor is a field organizer at the Center for New Community.

Image source: C-SPAN


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