A leading border security advocate says Democrats are panicking over the immigration debate because their No. 1 argument for reform has imploded in recent weeks, and he said the bill House Republicans passed Friday is vital because it sends a clear message to President Obama that Congress makes the nation’s laws.
House Republicans provided considerable drama on the issue last week.
Leaders initially called off a vote on a border security bill because they didn’t have the votes. After members started heading for the exits, they were ordered to come back and consider an amended bill that eventually passed on Friday.
Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian freely admits the House bill will never become law, but he said it serves a far important function beyond this debate and this year’s elections.
“There’s a tug of war going on between Congress and the president over who gets to make the law,” Krikorian said. “The Constitution’s pretty clear on that. That’s why it starts with Congress, and the presidency only comes after Congress. Yet the president seems to be saying that if Congress doesn’t pass the legislation that he demands, he is just going to go ahead and do it on his own.”
He added, “So even though the House bills, especially the one on this executive amnesty, obviously are not going to be passed under this Congress because Democrats run the Senate, it was a very important political marker making clear that Congress is not going to just lie down for the president’s usurpation of the separation of powers.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Mark Krikorian:
While no legislation will pass anytime soon, Krikorian is convinced the immigration issue has changed drastically as a result of the recent flood of illegal border crossings. He said the news has Democrats badly flustered and looking for a new argument to pass comprehensive reform.
"The whole premise of it was that the border is pretty much fixed, that we more or less have control and that now we can move on to clearing the decks, fix the problems that were created by past bad policy and move forward," Krikorian explained. "The problem is the border crisis exposes that as false. We haven't yet fixed our immigration enforcement problems, so how can we even talk about amnestying people who are already here? I think that resonates with lots of people, even people who are open to the idea, at some point, of amnesty down the road."
Last week, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said he believed recent events at the border and on Capitol Hill triggered a genuine change in perspective for his party's leaders.
"Our leadership has changed. I think they've come to a more realistic understanding of where the Republican constituency is," he said. "I think that events have caught up with the decision makers in Washington. Now, at least the decision makers in the Republican Party are together and they're going in the right direction."
Krikorian was a fierce critic of GOP leaders for much of the immigration debate. Now, he also believes they see the light.
"The Republican leadership in the House initially wanted a much softer approach, weaker language, all of that stuff," he said. "You know, just the kind of thing you would expect from (House Speaker John) Boehner and his crew. The backbench members of Republicans in the House as well as a pretty clear public push back, and not just from conservatives but lots of independents, convinced them this is really something they really needed to stand up to the president on. So I'd say Congressman Rohrabacher probably had that right."
In addition to the House bills making a statement about which branch of government makes the laws, Krikorian is also impressed by the principles they espouse. Two bills were passed, and Krikorian said both would put the nation on the right track.
"One was some extra money plus some changes to the law to make it easier to return illegal alien minors than it is now. So that was a positive step and it was a much tighter piece of legislation than the one they had considered the day before," said Krikorian, noting the other was aimed directly at the White House.
"The other thing they passed was essentially a rebuke to the president, who has unilaterally and illegally amnestied half-a-million people on his own authority and is threatening to do it for millions more without any input from Congress. They essentially said, 'We want to cut money off for this. You're not allowed to do that,'" he said.
No one in Washington holds out hope for the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate to find common ground on the issue. President Obama is now vowing to act on his own, and Krikorian has some educated guesses on what Obama would like to do.
"The word that's coming out is that he's going to amnesty, and I mean amnesty by giving work permits, Social Security Numbers and everything short of a green card, to potentially several million people. They're talking about maybe as many as five or six million, which would probably be the most sweeping executive power grab in our history, certainly in peacetime," he said.
However, Krikorian predicted Obama will tread lightly just weeks away from midterm elections that already look like bad news for his party.
"I think he's going to do something smaller before the election so as not to rock the boat too much politically," he said. "After the election, especially if the Republicans take the Senate, he might then try to slip through a much larger amnesty by decree, without any input from Congress."