Republicans Attempt to Bar ‘Backdoor Amnesty’ by Obama Administration

By Penny Starr | July 14, 2011 | 5:20am EDT

These illegal immigrants, deported to Mexico on Wednesday, July 28, 2010, are shown near the Nogales Port of Entry in Sonora, Mexico. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

( – Two Republican lawmakers are trying to prevent the Obama administration from making an end-run around Congress by using executive branch authority to grant “amnesty” to millions of illegal aliens.

On Tuesday, Rep. Lamar Smith (Texas) and Sen. David Vitter (La.) introduced the HALT Act, legislation intended to prevent the Obama administration from granting “massive,” de facto amnesty.

Smith accused the administration of abusing its power: “If the president gets his way, millions of illegal immigrants will be allowed to legally live and work in the U.S. without a vote of Congress,” he said.

Vitter said the Obama administration is trying to pass its “amnesty agenda” by executive order – completely bypassing Congress. He noted that the Senate already has rejected some attempts at granting amnesty for illegal aliens by defeating the DREAM Act in last year’s lame-duck session.

“The administration has now taken their amnesty push to new levels by attempting to give (Homeland Security) officials and other agencies the ability to grant amnesty, which is exactly why we’re introducing the HALT Act,” Vitter said. “Awarding amnesty over the objections of Congress and the American people would be a slap in the face to taxpayers, and especially to legal immigrants.”

As previously reported, the Obama administration recently directed federal immigration officials to use "prosecutorial discretion" in deciding which illegal aliens to detain and deport.

The intention is to kick out the worst offenders and release the all the others – specifically victims of domestic violence and other crimes; witnesses to crimes; or people who are charged with minor traffic violations.

The order to use “prosecutorial discretion” in immigration cases was outlined in a June 17, 2011 memo from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton.

One year ago, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (like ICE, it falls under the Department of Homeland Security) drafted an internal memo detailing "Administrative Alternatives to Comprehensive Immigration Reform." Republican critics said the intent was to reduce the number of deportations of non-criminal aliens by granting them parole or deferring removal action against them.

The HALT Act (HALT stands for Hinder the Administration’s Legislation Temptation) would suspend certain provisions of Federal immigration law until January 21, 2013, after the next presidential election.

While it sends a clear message to the Obama administration, the HALT Act is unlikely to become law, given Democratic control of the Senate and presidency.

Cosponsors of the H.R. 2497 – all Republicans -- include Reps. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), John Campbell (R-Calif.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), John Duncan (R-Tenn.), Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.),Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), Gary Miller (R-Calif.), Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), David Roe (R-Tenn.), Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.), and Bill Young (R-Fla.).

Also see:
Senator Introduces Homeland Security Secretary to ‘Hundreds’ of Illegals—at Capitol  (June 29, 2011)

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