It goes without saying that many of my colleagues in the White House Press Corps were furious Friday, given the short notice that the president gave us before coming out in the Rose Garden to announce his new immigration policy.
‚??It makes no sense to expel talented young persons who are, for all intents and purposes, Americans,” declared Mr. Obama, announcing that the Department of Homeland Security would cease deportation of illegal immigrants if they came to the U.S. before they turned 16, are younger than 30, have been in the U.S. for at least 5 consecutive years, are high school graduates or served in the military. The new policy is expected to affect as many as 800,000 illegal immigrants and will be implemented by executive order rather than legislation enacted by Congress.
As extraordinary as this announcement was, it was the timing of it that caused the most irritation in the press corps as well as on Capitol Hill. Along with Obama‚??s short notice to the press and refusal to take questions, the immigration remarks were made moments after reporters were briefed at the White House on the president‚??s trip to the G-20 summit next week. It also came two days before Mexico‚??s presidential election, in which illegal immigration to the U.S. is a major issue.
Although most of them were back in their districts, many House Republicans took time this afternoon to denounce the new immigration policy, with the strongest words coming from the freshman class.
‚??It‚??s just one more example of how this president is in over his head, was never ready to be president, has no respect for the constitution, and is campaigning 100 percent of the time,‚?Ě Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) told Human Events, ‚??It ts not at all surprising. He was never ready to be president and this is the latest example of that.‚?Ě
Fellow freshman GOPer Todd Rokita (Ind.) agreed, saying ‚??The American people deserve laws, including immigration and border security policies, that have been fully debated and passed through Congress ‚?? not dictated by the president as though he were a king. Immigrating to America is a privilege, not a right, and it‚??s important that those who want to become Americans demonstrate respect for our rule of law.‚?Ě
Freshmen Republicans David Schweikert and Ben Quayle are competing against each other for the Arizona seat. But they agreed wholeheartedly on Obama overstepping his reach today. Schweikert said: ‚??Our president thinks laws are great, so long as he can ignore them, Today he announced a backdoor amnesty for illegal immigrants. There‚??s no telling what he‚??ll try next.‚?Ě
In Quayle‚??s words, ‚??While the Obama administration has failed to secure the southern border, our propagandist-in-chief has announced his cynical election year backdoor-amnesty program.‚?Ě
According to Mississippi‚??s freshman Rep. Steve Palazzo, Obama‚??s decision was ‚??yet another example of this administration‚??s disregard for the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution, and the system of government our forefathers put in place.‚?Ě
If there was anyone not surprised by this announcement or its timing, it was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Within two hours of the president leaving the Rose Garden, the DCCC‚??s Grassroots Outreach Director Angela Guzman launched an online petition drive with signers encouraging Congress to pass the DREAM Act to gave citizenship to many illegal immigrants.
‚??This is a defining issue for our country,‚?Ě wrote Guzman, ‚??If Mitt Romney and the Republicans refuse to allow immigrants who were brought to America as children to have basic rights, then we need to call them out.‚?Ě