Immigration reform is deader than ever in 2014 and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says President Obama is to blame.
By refusing to halt the current “surge” of illegal immigration, Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia said Thursday, Obama has made it “extremely difficult” to pass any reform of the immigration laws. Enforcement at the border must be “the leading component” of reform legislation, he said, but it isn’t happening.
Instead, the president has created a broad new exception to immigration law to permit tens of thousands of young immigrants to cross the U.S. border with Mexico and stay in this country. But he lacks the constitutional authority to make this change in the law unilaterally, Goodlatte said.
As judiciary chairman, Goodlatte is an important figure in the immigration debate. His committee passed five separate immigration bills earlier this year as part of the step-by-step approach favored by Republicans. Obama and Democrats insist that immigration reform be packaged in a single “comprehensive” bill.
But this procedural disagreement is the least of the impediments to immigration reform at the moment. Major legislation has no chance of House approval so long as Obama allows thousands to enter the country illegally. And an even greater factor standing in the way is the lack of trust by the American people in any promise by the president to block illegal immigrants at the Southern border.
Goodlatte didn’t say “never” to an immigration bill this year, but he came awfully close. In truth, if Obama doesn’t change his border policy – and soon – any hope for reform is dead. Obama has given no indication he intends to strengthen enforcement—quite the contrary.
“The problem has been putting the cart before the horse,” Goodlatte said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. He was referring to a process begun recently by the Obama administration that exploits an “exception” in immigration law to let all but a small fraction of the children coming in the U.S. illegally to stay, at least temporarily. This could mean years. Rather than hosting new illegals, “we need to see enforcement,” he said.
Obama has given congressional Republicans until August to pass comprehensive legislation. If Republicans balk, he has vowed to implement reforms of his own – without the assent of Congress. But he “doesn’t have the authority to say, ‘if you don’t do it, I’m going to,’” the congressman said.
“The president has shown a lack of leadership,” Goodlatte said. Now, with the new flood of immigrants, his weak efforts at enforcement “have come home to roost.”