Republicans Demand the White House’s Latest Thinking on Immigration Reform

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and other Republicans wrote Obama a letter demanding he disclose the recommendations. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and other Republicans wrote Obama a letter demanding he disclose the recommendations. Carolyn Kaster/AP file photo

With six weeks to go before the midterm elections, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are pressuring President Obama for a peek at the recommendations he’s receiving for the promised executive order on immigration reform that the White House recently postponed.

Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and 21 other Republicans on Monday sent Obama a letter demanding that he disclose to the American people the recommendations he has received for the anticipated executive actions he will take to “further dismantle our nation’s immigration laws.”

Noting that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in the past week has begun sending details from his assigned “inventory” of possible “humane” immigration enforcement actions from Attorney General Eric Holder and others, the letter chides Obama for “meeting with select interest groups regarding their demands for administrative action on immigration. As a result, the American people have been cut out of a process that could dramatically affect their lives.”

The administration should immediately begin disclosing all incoming recommendations, a move that “could go some way toward repairing the damage to the American political process caused by the secrecy with which your administration has considered changes to our immigration system.” the lawmakers wrote.

“Whether it’s now or November, it is never acceptable for the executive branch to ignore the Constitution and unilaterally give amnesty to unlawful immigrants,” they said. “Regarding actions you are planning that you believe would comply with the Constitution, the least the administration can do is give Americans the opportunity to see the recommendations that you are considering before you take any actions.  Rather than attempt to hide these actions from the American people until after the midterm elections, Americans should be given the chance to come to their own conclusions as to the merits of these recommendations.”

Asked to comment, White House Deputy Press Secretary Shawn Turner told Government Executive that “any response from the White House will be provided directly back to the congressman.”

The National Immigration Law Center said the Republicans’ letter “unnecessarily politicizes” actions President Obama is entitled to take. “As countless law professors, legal experts, and the president himself have made clear, President Obama’s authority to restore some order to our immigration system is not only legally sound, but also widely used by presidents on both sides of the aisle,” said Marielena Hincapié, the center’s executive director.  

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