Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote President Obama Thursday to urge him not to “legalize undocumented immigrants…until we have properly secured our southern border and provided for effective enforcement of immigration laws.” The three Republicans were part of the “Gang of Eight” who drafted and oversaw passage of the Senate-passed comprehensive amnesty bill (S. 744) in 2013. The fourth Republican "Gang" member, Sen. Jeff Flake, Ariz., did not sign the letter.
The Senators warned Obama that bypassing Congress would: undermine the nation’s system of checks and balances and the rule of law; make it more difficult to later pass immigration reform legislation, and incentivize more illegal immigration.
The following are excerpts from the letter:
“It is our view, along with many of our colleagues and a majority of the American people, that no action should be taken to legalize undocumented immigrants who are living and working in the United States until we have properly secured our southern border and provided for effective enforcement of immigration laws. Moreover, the need to secure our southern border and effectively enforce the law has been underscored – not diminished – by recent developments at home and abroad of which you are well aware.
“With this in mind, the issue of immigration is clearly one that must be debated and decided by the representatives of the people…Furthermore, it is not clear under what authority you would take such action, if you chose to do so. Taking executive action along the lines that have been reported would flaunt the separation of powers and our system of checks and balances, undermine the rule of law, and frustrate the proper administration of our current immigration system. Additionally, providing legal status by executive order…will only incentivize illegal immigration and open the floodgates to more visa overstays and illegal entries over our southern border.
“Unilateral action by the executive branch on this issue would be detrimental to finding and enacting much-needed long-term policy and legislative solutions…In this regard, acting by executive order on an issue of this magnitude would be the most divisive action you could take – completely undermining any good-faith effort to meaningfully address this important issue.”
House Democrats, on the other hand, encouraged Obama to take “bold” executive action to stop deportations. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, penned an op-ed published by Univision in conjunction with Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., that asked the president to legalize all who would have received amnesty under the Senate-passed bill.
The op-ed suggested the president could “use his authority to prevent family separation — this time of undocumented close family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or DACA beneficiaries… Doing so would not permit family members to skip the line, but it would allow them to wait in line with their family until a visa number becomes available..Similarly, he could recognize that it is 'essential for agriculture' that farmworkers who toil in our fields do so without fear.”