Debunking Tea Party Lies About Obama’s Immigration Actions


Tea Party News Network (TPNN) and other right-wing news outlets continue reporting that conservatives can stop Pres. Obama’s immigration actions in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

TPNN reports that Tea Party leaders from both the House and Senate met with grassroots activist on Capitol Hill “to denounce President Obama’s unilateral amnesty order that now frees an estimated 5-6 million illegal immigrants from the worry of being deported from the country in which they remain illegally.” In specific, the meeting discussed plans to neutralize Pres. Obama’s immigration orders and actions through the power of the purse – by defunding any immigration programs.

Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) told the crowd that “We are going to do everything within our power to not pay for the president’s illegal actions. If he wants to make an illegal action, he can pay for it himself,” and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told the crowd that “Anyone who would vote to fund [executive amnesty] can’t take this oath next Congress.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R=TX) led the Texas Tea Party participants stating “This is a choice between truth and mendacity” while urging  that Congress refuse to grant “taxpayer dollars for lawless and illegal amnesty.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) also from Texas, asked the crowd: “If we refuse to learn from history and allow this unconstitutional amnesty to take place before the border is secured, then there is a very prominent looming question that must be answered. How long do you think we should go before we do the next amnesty?”

The problem with this strategy has long been debunked. As we reported nearly 3 weeks ago, while many in Congress have vowed to defund Obama’s immigration actions, even going so far as to threaten a government shutdown the House Appropriations Committee issued a statement on November 20 confirming that Congress is powerless to defund the President’s actions.

The primary agency for implementing the President’s new immigration executive order is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This agency is entirely self-funded through the fees it collects on various immigration applications. Congress does not appropriate funds for any of its operations, including the issuance of immigration status or work permits, with the exception of the ‘E-Verify’ program. Therefore, the Appropriations process cannot be used to ‘de-fund’ the agency. The agency has the ability to continue to collect and use fees to continue current operations, and to expand operations as under a new Executive Order, without needing legislative approval by the Appropriations Committee or the Congress, even under a continuing resolution or a government shutdown.

If Cruz and his other Tea Party friends are truly interested in shutting down Obama’s actions, there are only two courses they can take – both doomed to failur: they could attempt to impeach the president or vote to overturn the president’s action/order. However, both would be doomed for essentially the same reason:

Republicans don’t have enough votes.

As Washington Examiner points out, any attempt to impeach Obama would be doomed to failure:

Even if House Republicans gathered the 218 votes required to bring articles of impeachment — a far-fetched scenario — conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds vote, or 67 votes. There are now 45 Republicans in the Senate. In 1999, when the GOP impeached Bill Clinton, Republicans held 55 Senate seats, and got 50 votes to convict the president. So impeachment will not succeed now, any more than it did then.

What about overturning the order itself through an act of Congress? Again, conservatives simply don’t have the numbers to prevail.

Sure, if the executive order is based on a statute Congress could simply change the statute, thereby nullifying the order. Were that to happen, all Obama would need to do is veto the bill. Congress can only override a veto “with a two-thirds majority of the number of members present in both the Senate and the House when the override vote is taken.”

The same would hold true if Obama elects to issue a “policy directive” instead of an executive action like he did with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative that directed the Department of Homeland Security to “exercise prosecutorial discretion as appropriate to ensure that enforcement resources are not expended on low priority cases, such as individuals who came to the United States as children.”

At its core, what we are talking about when debating the President’s immigration actions is “prosecutorial discretion” which has the full backing of the over 100 law professors AND has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

As MSNBC reported last month, “the legality of prosecutorial discretion is clear, according to over 100 law professors who specialize in immigration, and who signed a joint memo in September on the issues involved,” which read in part:

“The application of prosecutorial discretion to individuals or groups is grounded in the Constitution, and has been part of the immigration system for many years. Furthermore, court decisions, the immigration statute, regulations and policy guidance have recognized prosecutorial discretion dating back to at least the 1970s. Notably, in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court reiterated: ‘A principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials … Federal officials, as an initial matter, must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all…’”

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