House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) speaks… (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)
WASHINGTON -- The first GOP reaction to the Obamaadministration’s decision to stop deportations of some young illegal immigrants is coming in. It is as expected: firmly opposed.
Although some Republicans have supported similar efforts in the past, the party has turned away from measures viewed as soft on illegal immigrants, including the Dream Act, which would have allowed some young immigrants brought here illegally as children to stay in the U.S. The bill was voted down in 2010.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican known for calling for tougher immigration laws, immediately denounced the administration’s decision as “amnesty.”
“It also blatantly ignores the rule of law that is the foundation of our democracy,” Smith said in a statement. “This huge policy shift has horrible consequences for unemployed Americans looking for jobs and violates President Obama’s oath to uphold the laws of this land.”
Numbers USA, a leading advocacy group pushing for tougher immigration laws, said the move was “unconstitutional.”
“President Obama thwarted the will of Congress and shunned the 20 million under- and unemployed Americans by announcing he will grant work permits to 2 [million to] 3 million illegal workers.” said group president Roy Beck. “Congress on three occasions rejected Dream Act amnesties in part to help unemployed workers born here or who came here legally.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted: “This decision avoids dealing with Congress and the American people instead of fixing a broken immigration system once and for all.” And again later: "This type of policy proposal, regardless of motivation, will entice people to break our laws."
Other Republicans, most notably Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), have pushed the party to shift its posture, mindful that the GOP is in in danger of alienating a generation of Latino voters. Rubio, who is often mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate, did not have an early reaction to the president’s announcement. A Rubio aide said the administration did not consult with the senator on the decision.