Law Professor to Congress: Obama’s Failure to Enforce Immigration Law Is ‘Dereliction of Duties'

By Penny Starr | March 2, 2011 | 4:01 AM EST

Carol Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, said at a March 1 House hearing on immigration that President Barack Obama's failure to enforce federal immigration laws a 'dereliction of duties.' ( Starr)

( - A Vanderbilt University law professor told a House committee on Tuesday that President Barack Obama's failure to enforce federal immigration law is a "dereliction of duties" that puts Americans at risk.

“President Obama’s failure to enforce federal immigration laws raises the question of whether we are a nation of laws or a nation without the courage of its convictions,” Professor Carol Swain said in her opening remarks. “This dereliction of duties places our citizens at risk, and it damages our national sovereignty and standing in the world.”

The hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement focused on the impact of illegal immigration on American workers and unemployment in the United States.

“The failure to enforce immigration laws means that American citizens are unprotected from a massive influx of people of foreign-born persons who have entered the country without authorization and have openly stolen jobs, goods, and opportunities from law-abiding American citizens,” Swain said.

Instead of enforcing federal immigration law, the Obama administration is thwarting state and local efforts to do so, she testified.

“Not only is the current presidential administration not adequately enforcing immigration laws, it has used the power of the federal government to fight states and localities (that) have made good faith efforts to assist the federal government in performing its constitutional duties to protect the citizenry against domestic and foreign threats.”

Swain said an estimated 8 million illegal aliens are holding jobs in the U.S. labor market while 14 million Americans remain unemployed. Millions more Americans have given up looking for work, she added.

Ranking committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) claimed in her opening remarks that Americans are not doing the kind of jobs that illegal immigrants often fill: “We know that even in this economy, Americans are not returning to the fields” Lofgren said. “And the wage increase necessary to entice them there would make U.S. food products no longer competitive with imported products.”

Lofgren said this would lead to farm closures and the “off-shoring of millions and millions of U.S. jobs.”

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, disagreed: “All credible studies show that competition from cheap foreign labor displaces American workers, including legal immigrants, or depresses their wages,” Smith said.

Other witnesses at the hearing were George Rodriguez, president of the San Antonio, Texas Tea Party; Frank Morris with Progressives for Immigration Reform; and Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil Human Rights.