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Republican Rhetoric versus Reality on Immigration

Nov 21, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In his response to President Obama's executive action on immigration, Speaker Boehner ignored that he has had a Senate-passed bipartisan immigration bill sitting in his lap for 512 days, falsely claimed the President didn't have the authority to act, and falsely claimed that the President's action would encourage more illegal immigration to the United States. The facts show that Speaker Boehner, and other Republicans who have made similar claims in recent days, are just plain wrong.

A full myth vs. fact sheet on the President's announcement, with additional citations, can be found HERE.


MYTH #1: President Obama's executive action is a lawless attempt to change our immigration system without Congress.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): By ignoring the will of the American people, President Obama has cemented his legacy of lawlessness [11/20/14]

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK): He does not have the constitutional authority to unilaterally declare that a law should not apply to millions in America. But that is what he did tonight when he announced plans to give roughly 5 million illegal immigrants amnesty. [11/20/14]

FACT: The President has long-established authority to make choices about how best to enforce the law. This discretion has been used by many times by presidents from both parties. The President's ability to use discretion about how best to enforce the law is grounded in centuries-old legal tradition that has been recognized by legal scholars and affirmed by the Supreme Court. Presidents from both parties have used their executive discretion to effectively execute and enforce the law. [Letter from Legal Scholars, 9/3/14; INS General Counsel, 7/15/76; CRS, 7/13/12; IPC, 10/2/14; CAP, 7/1/14]

MYTH #2: President Obama's executive action will create an incentive for a new wave of illegal immigration.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX): There's going to be a surge, an uptick of some type of an illegal immigration because people are going to see this as a further signal that it's okay to come. [11/20/14]

FACT: The President has a proven track record on securing the border and taking action to deport criminals. He is using his discretion to strengthen these efforts and stop wasting taxpayer dollars by focusing on deporting felons, not families. Any undocumented individuals will have to demonstrate that they have been in the United States for five years to qualify for deferred action. The President's use of discretion will allow him to build on his strong record to bolster border security, take more aggressive action to stop unauthorized immigration, and focus on deporting dangerous criminals. [[DHS, accessed 11/20/14; DHS, 6/15/12;  National Journal, 6/16/14; CBP, accessed 9/29/14]

MYTH #3: President Obama's executive action is a blanket amnesty that will allow criminals to stay in the United States.

Senator Dan Coats (R-IN): President Obama's actions to change existing law and grant amnesty via executive order exceed his Constitutional authority [11/20/14]

FACT: The real amnesty is doing nothing. The President's enforcement priorities will require individuals seeking deferred action to register with the government, pass a tough criminal background check, and pay taxes. The President is using his discretion within the law to put more emphasis on securing the border and prioritizing the deportation of terrorists, violent criminals, and gang members.[DHS, accessed 11/20/14; DHS, 6/15/12; ICE; White House, 10/20/14]

: President Obama's executive action will allow undocumented immigrants to take American jobs.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL): President Obama's immigration order would [...] allow them ["illegal immigrants"] to now take jobs directly from struggling Americans in every occupation. [11/19/14]

FACT: The President's immigration focus will help to create jobs and economic mobility. The President's executive action is projected to help create jobs, drive economic growth, and cut the deficit. [CEA; 11/21/14; BLS,1/12; Center for Global Development, 4/13; CBO, 7/3/13; CAP, 11/7/13; CBO, 6/18/13; White House, 4/16/14]