In the latest showdown over President Obama’s use of executive action on immigration relief, House Republicans voted through an anti-immigration bill Thursday that would prevent the president from giving deportation reprieve to some undocumented immigrants. Known as the Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act, the largely symbolic bill — which has little chance of passage in the Senate — would make the executive action “null and void and without legal effect.”
By a vote of 219-197, the Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)-sponsored bill seeks to undo the president’s latest executive action by exempting “categories of persons unlawfully present in the United States from removal under the immigration laws.” The president announced before Thanksgiving that he would take executive action to extend deportation relief and temporary work authorization to the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and other undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children and who have lived here for at least five years.
According to NBC News’ Luke Russert, Reps. Gohmert and Stutzman voted against the bill “because it doesn’t go far enough.” Seven Republicans, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Jeff Denham (R-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Mike Coffman (R-CO) Louis Gohmert (R-TX), and Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) voted no.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) gave his approval for the symbolic vote partly to allow Republicans to express their anger at the president for what they perceived to be an unilateral action on immigration law, Politico reported. Boehner hoped that allowing the vote would make Tea Party lawmakers more amenable to a two-part government spending bill next week that would prevent a government shutdown.
Congressional Republicans have made clear that they will fight tooth and nail to prevent the president from taking what they perceive to be a unilateral action on immigration law. The Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly approved Sarah Saldana, the president’s nominee to lead the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with all Republican members in opposition. Saying that he was “troubled” over Saldana’s support for the president’s executive action, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) stated, “I cannot support her nomination to be our nation’s chief immigration enforcement officer until she explains her views before a full hearing in the Judiciary Committee.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that Yoho’s bill could “‘exacerbate flaws in our broken immigration system’ and distract ‘limited enforcement resources’ from targeting criminals for deportation, The Hill reported. He also said that the Yoho’s bill was “inconsistent with the values of the vast majority of the people in this country.”
“Temperatures need to cool a little bit in the wake of my executive action,” the president said Wednesday, acknowledging that Republicans would try and block his executive action.
Seventeen states filed a joint lawsuit stating that the president’s actions violated the Take Care Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act, which Texas Attorney General said “were intended to protect against this sort of executive disregard of the separation of powers.” A memo from the President’s Office of Legal Counsel and a letter from 135 immigration law professors indicate his executive action is legally sound.
House Democrat plans to offer their version of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill during a procedural vote failed on a 227-191 party line vote. According to a Public Religion Research Institute poll released Thursday, seven in ten Americans said that they supported Obama’s executive action.
Meanwhile, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and outgoing Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) held a press conference Wednesday, calling on Tea Partiers to rally against so-called “amnesty.” The attendance hovered at around 40 protesters, or as one commentator noted, “less than a school bus, more than a phone booth.”
A new draft of Yoho’s bill released Thursday indicates that current recipients of the president’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would not be affected, though the bill could still potentially affect recipients who are renewing their applications.