AUSTIN, Texas–In response to the recent surge of children crossing the border, President Obama delivered a speech earlier this week from the Rose Garden announcing new plans for immigration reform. Blaming inaction by House Republicans, Obama stated that he would take action by executive order, to “fix as much of our immigration system as I can, on my own, without Congress.”
Although the President did pledge to direct more personnel from the interior to the border, he did not specify what exact role those personnel would play. Obama also failed to address the requests from border state governors like Texas Governor Rick Perry and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer for increased funding to cover the immense costs as these states struggle to pay for increased security needs and housing, food, and medical treatment for the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minor children who have arrived in the United States in recent months.
Reaction from Texas elected officials was overwhelmingly negative, with many expressing skepticism whether Obama was truly dedicated to addressing the problem or just attempting to score political points, as well as objections to yet another announcement that the president would act via executive order and bypass Congress.
Senator Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) issued a statement on his Senate website criticizing Obama’s decision to “continue to bypass Congress and make changes to existing immigration law through executive actions”:
“It’s painfully clear that the President’s previous ‘administrative’ or executive actions on immigration resulted in the current humanitarian crisis in Texas. Given the current crisis on the Southern Border, how can the President consider more pen and phone policy changes that will lead to another surge of illegal immigration and put more lives in danger?”
Catherine Frazier, press secretary for Senator Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), provided Breitbart Texas with this statement:
“President Obama made many excuses today, but the blame lies at his feet. He has forfeited endless opportunities to work with Congress to pass common sense immigration reform that secures the border and champions legal immigration, while respecting the rule of law. The humanitarian crisis at the border is a direct result of his own policy failures, and his past unilateral actions on immigration display a willingness to stretch his existing legal authorities well beyond the breaking point. This humanitarian crisis will not end until both the president and Congress make it clear that rule of law matters, and those who ignore it and come here illegally will not be allowed to stay and receive de facto amnesty.”
Attorney General and Republican nominee for Governor Greg Abbott was unavailable for comment yesterday, but over the weekend had commented that any efforts by the White House to provide additional funding at the border were “a good first step, but that alone is not going to erase months of misinformation and inaction that created this crisis in the first place.”
Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples sent the following statement exclusively to Breitbart Texas:
“If President Obama would show the same commitment to fighting the drug cartels as he has Hobby Lobby, our border would be secure. The President’s announcement that he is moving DHS and OAG resources to the southern border is long overdue. Sadly, this recent surge was predicted when the President exercised unilateral authority in 2012 and implemented his deferred action program. When President Obama shows a serious and lasting commitment to true border security we can discuss the needed immigration reforms.”
State Senator and Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick sent this quote exclusively to Breitbart Texas:
“I’m pleased to see President Obama finally realize illegal immigration is a problem. He should know, he is responsible for the crisis we are experiencing. Enforce the law and secure the border. Until that is accomplished and border communities are safe again, Washington lacks the credibility to negotiate on true immigration reform.”
Congressman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) (R-Austin) distributed a press release:
“When it comes to the crisis on the border, President Obama has no one to blame but himself. He is the one who promised amnesty to illegal immigrant minors already in the U.S. As a result, tens of thousands of illegal immigrant minors are now flooding across the border. Why are they coming? Because of the promise of legalization and amnesty that President Obama advocates.
“It is laughable that President Obama now is trying to point the finger at House Republicans. We’re the ones who have been calling for border security rather than amnesty. The President insists that the Senate amnesty bill will improve our immigration system. But amnesty is not the answer.
“As we’ve seen in the past, amnesty only encourages more illegal immigration. We saw it after the ’86 amnesty. Congress legalized three million illegal immigrants. And what happened? More illegal immigrants came to the U.S. There are now 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., and an estimated seven million working here illegally.
“The Founders in Constitution gave Congress the right to establish immigration laws – not the President. His job is to enforce the laws enacted by Congress. We don’t need amnesty. We need border security. And we need a President who will enforce all of our nation’s immigration laws, not just a select few.
“If the President insists on enacting amnesty by executive order, he will undoubtedly face a lawsuit and will find himself, once again, on the wrong side of the Constitution and the law.”
Congressman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) (R-Dallas) provided Breitbart Texas with an exclusive first look at a draft of a letter he is sending to Speaker of the House John Boehner today. The letter begins with a comment that the current border crisis “hits very close to home” for him as a Texan because his state “has been left to deal with [it] largely on its own.” Sessions explicitly states his belief that Obama is to blame for the crisis, because of his “refusal…to enforce our nation’s current laws while simultaneously encouraging foreign nationals to enter our country illegally.”
The letter lists a series of recommendations for Boehner to consider incorporating into any solution that the House Republicans might propose, including adopting Governor Rick Perry’s suggestion of deploying an additional 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border, utilizing Predator drones under the direction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to monitor the border, allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other appropriate agencies outside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to inspect facilities where DHS is housing unaccompanied immigrant children, rescinding policies like DHS’ “Catch and Release” and “Notice to Appear,” and resurrection of interdiction-based law enforcement operations, many of which were conducted in coordination with the Mexican government to repatriate illegal immigrants back to their home countries.
“Our laws are being violated and the president is doing nothing,” Sessions said. “Here’s the bottom line: if we’re going to give the president any money, then we’re going to have to come up with a complete understanding about what the money will be used for, and we’re going to have to update the laws, and we’re going to have to rescind his executive orders. He’s making things worse.”
Sarah Rumpf is a political and communications consultant living in Austin. You can follow her on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.