President Obama took action to allow some unauthorized immigrants to remain in the United States because House Republicans wouldn't, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell told a national cable-TV audience this morning.
"It's time to give us a bill," Pascrell (D-9th Dist.) said on CNBC this morning, "If we sat down, we would come up with a bill, And we'd have to compromise."
Pascell was challenged on the same program by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), who said Obama exceeded his powers in issuing the executive order. "He made law," Mullvaney said.
The U.S. Senate in 2013 passed a bipartisan immigration law that strengthened border security and provided a path to citizenship for an estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants. Obama's executive order would affect about 4 million of them, according to the Pew Research Center. Those whose children are American citizens or legal residents and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years would be required to pass a background check and pay taxes in exchange for being allowed to remain in the country.
"This is a homeland security issue," Pascrell said. "The government has a right to know who's in this country."
Just as on CNBC, support or opposition to Obama's move broke along party lines in the New Jersey congressional delegation.
"The Republicans in the House had 510 days to act in response, but instead, they turned their backs on our business community, faith leaders, and hard-working immigrant families," said Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-10th Dist.) "For the sake of our security, for the sake of our economy, and for the sake of our future, we cannot afford to rely on a dysfunctional immigration system any longer."
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who was to accompany Obama to Las Vegas today where the president was to deliver a speech on immigration, said 11 other chief executives, both Republican and Democratic, took similar action 39 times in 60 years,
"In fact, it was the sweeping action of President Reagan and George H.W. Bush that deferred the deportations of up to 1.5 million undocumented spouses and children — 40 percent of America’s undocumented population — at the time," Menendez said. ".And now President Obama is using his legal executive authority, as they did, to grant deportation relief to millions of families who have been living in fear and in the shadows."
"In the face of House Republicans' crippling inaction, President Obama has acted decisively and within his legal authority to help keep families together and ensure that everyone living in this country is playing by the same rules," said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.) "These executive actions will help secure our border, hold bad actors accountable, and ensure that families are not being ripped apart."
On the other side, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5th Dist.) said he would work to overturn the "unconstitutional action" by Obama.
"At a time when American workers are desperate for jobs, the president has decided to unfairly reward those who have blatantly broken the law with blanket amnesty and work permits, allowing them to directly compete with American workers for jobs that are hard to find already," Garrett said.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.) said Obama should be working with Congress to overhaul the immigration laws, starting with securing the borders.
“It is absolutely true that the Congress has not agreed on how to legislate reform of the immigration system," Frelinghuysen said. "But that does not mean, on a whim, the president can ignore the constitution and alter existing U.S. law before Congress passes new statutes."
Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7th Dist.) said Obama had no power to act unilaterally.
"Litigation may be necessary to reaffirm the essential role of Congress under our system of checks and balances," Lance said. "Congress must not allow the president’s actions to stand unchallenged."