A Texas lawmaker says if President Obama were to try to revamp immigration law on his own, it would change the course of November’s midterm elections and effectively hand-deliver control of the Senate to Republicans.
In an interview with The Daily Signal on immigration, Rep. Kevin Brady, the Republican deputy whip, said he would fight Obama’s proposed action—which the president is reportedly considering delaying until after the midterms to avoid political blowback.
“We’ll fight it on constitutional grounds, we’ll fight it through the law that’s sitting in the Senate and we’ll fight it in the courts if need be,” said Brady, alluding to the Senate’s failure to pass its $2.7 billion border bill before August recess.
Obama declared in late June that he would act unilaterally to reform the nation’s immigration system after Speaker John Boehner said the House wouldn’t act on comprehensive immigration reform this year.
The president originally hinted he would reveal his plan by the end of the summer.
But mindful of the potential electoral peril for Democratic Senate candidates, Obama “hasn’t made a decision on the timing,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday.
What’s Under Consideration
The possibilities for Obama’s plan reportedly include not only deferring deportation for millions of illegal immigrants but also providing new green cards for high-tech workers and for the relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
More than a year ago, the Senate passed its own comprehensive bill to clear the way for millions of illegal immigrants to gain a pathway to citizenship.
But since a humanitarian crisis involving millions of illegal immigrants, including unaccompanied children, erupted this summer, Republicans have said they will not pursue comprehensive reform until the Obama administration shows it can secure the border.
A month ago, House Republicans passed a $694 million border funding bill, that, among other things, tweaks a 2008 human-trafficking law to allow for quick return of the unaccompanied minors to their home countries.
In a separate bill—which Brady cosponsored—the House voted to stop Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which the president implemented in 2012.
Focus on Border Security
Brady, who has served his Southeast Texas district in Congress since 1997, says the House border funding bill represents the only solution worth considering right now.
“The solution … not to manage the problem, but to stop it, was passed by the House before we left [for recess], and it’s sitting in the Senate,” Brady said. “It’s a smart solution: securing the border, deterring families from sending kids on a dangerous journey and reuniting them back in Central America.”
Brady, who also serves as chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, wants any decision on legalization to be made after improvements in border security.
“I think there is a need to address this [immigration reform] sooner rather than later,” Brady said.
“The status quo on the border just isn’t acceptable. It’s going to take a step-by-step solution, starting with securing the border. [Only when] we can do that with confidence, steps two and three—which are addressing the workforce needs of the country and resolving what we do with those living here illegally today—can follow.”
Unlike some of his conservative colleagues, Brady downplayed talk that Republicans would call for Obama’s impeachment or another government shutdown if the president uses executive action.
Brady said a unilateral move by Obama would show the president is focused on securing his legacy.
“What I see here, not knowing exactly what the president will do, is that his proposed action contradicts his own insistence for several years that only Congress has the power to change immigration law,” Brady said. “That leads me to believe this is a very cynical political move.”