Immigrants Need Legislation, Not Litigation

Boehner Lawsuit ObamaJohn Boehner has once again decided to attack President Obama’s alleged executive overreach in the most American of ways: with a lawsuit. To protest his November 2014 executive action that addressed immigration, 26 states have joined a Texas-led lawsuit against the president, and now the Speaker of the House is filing his own.

“This isn’t about immigration,” Boehner said in an interview on Fox News. “This is the President violating the Constitution, violating his oath of office, and frankly, not upholding the rule of law.”  But here’s the thing: it is about immigration.  While House Republicans whine about overreach and spend more energy on litigation than legislation, millions of undocumented workers are left hanging.

President Obama’s executive action, set to roll out on February 18th, expands the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by eliminating its age cap for immigrants who arrived in the United States prior to turning 16.  It also shifts the priorities of immigration agents to finding out if someone is eligible for programs before (and hopefully instead of) deporting them, leaving more resources available for the deportation of criminals.

Though the White House and even some conservative sources find the President’s action to be within the bounds of executive power, House Republicans have decided to make stubborn resistance their priority. They’ve withheld funding from the Department of Homeland Security, making a vital agency (with duties far broader than immigration) a pawn in this vengeful political game.

Despite a comprehensive (and bipartisan!) immigration bill already passed by the Senate, House Republicans remain focused on keeping the president in check. The Congressional Budget Office has found that the bill, S.744 or the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which establishes new programs for attaining citizenship, work permits, and legal rights, will deter future illegal immigration and save the US government a lot of money in the long run. It promises the potential for great progress, and yet we have nothing from the House.

With the futures of millions of people at stake–people who probably couldn’t care less about which political party ends up helping them out–the House needs to get its act together. Businesses who hire migrant workers suffer under harsh anti-immigration legislation. Children are deported. Immigrants are blamed for stealing jobs. No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, you know that something has to change.

So Mr. Speaker, it is about immigration. The president seems to realize this. While you were busy not passing legislation, he took action. So please, spare us all your litigious games, and start doing your job.

Rosa Gibson