Here's Chuck Grassley's Real Problem With the Use of Executive Authority on Immigration

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Tuesday, when the Obama administration unveiled a number of proposals that would relax restrictions on foreign workers and their spouses, Chuck Grassley was all verklempt.

"The Obama administration claims it wants immigration reform, but they can't wait for Congress. They act on their own," Grassley, a top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on the Senate floor,according to his prepared remarks. "What's next? Will the president unilaterally legalize the undocumented population because he can't have his way with Congress?"

Grassley's feeling that the president is overstepping his powers in revamping immigration policy via executive action is something of a change of heart. Back in June of 2008, when President George W. Bush used an executive order to require federal contractors to participate in the Homeland Security Department's E-Verify system, Grassley was all for it.

Appearing on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight several days after the announcement in 2008, Grassley voiced his support for Bush's action, saying, "It's so important that the president do that," since Grassley would have put something similar in legislation of his own if the president hadn't. "It's quite a victory to get it done by executive," Grassley said at the time.

Grassley deserves points for ideological consistency on immigration, and his office argues that the situation was different—that there was clear authority in the law for every employer to use E-Verify, including the federal government. "President Obama's executive orders, on prosecutorial discretion for H-1Bs for example, fall, in Senator Grassley's opinion, outside the constrictions of existing law," his spokeswoman, Beth Levine, wrote in an email. "Senator Grassley wishes the president would use his executive authority to benefit American workers, instead of working to their detriment." Bush, the logic goes, was merely requiring what the law already authorized.

The upshot though, was that Bush took a law Congress established as a voluntary system in 1996 and greatly expanded the program's reach, affecting at least several hundred thousand workers a year nationwide, according to The New York Times' estimates. The real difference then, was that Obama's proposal uses executive authority to make life a little easier for foreign workers, and Bush was using it to do something Grassley agrees with. It would behoove Grassley to just say so.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.