22 Senators Say Administrative Policy Directives and Memoranda are Incrementally Nullifying Immigration Enforcement

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today expressed grave concerns about administrative actions taken by President Obama to weaken enforcement of U.S. immigration laws and to limit the deportation of illegal immigrants.

Cochran is among 22 Senators who sent a letter to the President on Thursday that criticizes him and his administration for a recently-ordered immigration “enforcement review” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The order is the latest administrative action taken since 2009 to reduce illegal immigrant deportation criteria.

“The liberties taken by the President and his administration with the nation’s border security and immigration laws are very troubling. Constitutionally, and in real terms, these questionable actions raise serious questions about the rule of law, national security, public safety and our economy,” said Cochran, who has advocated enforcement of border security and immigration laws.

In addition to taking President Obama to task over his immigration policies, the Senators stress that it is the President’s constitutional duty to “faithfully execute” the laws enacted.

“Our entire constitutional system is threatened when the Executive Branch suspends the law at its whim and our nation’s sovereignty is imperiled when the commander-in-chief refuses to defend the integrity of its borders,” the Senators wrote. “You swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. We therefore ask you to uphold that oath and to carry out the duties required by the Constitution and entrusted to you by the American people.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that nearly all individuals removed from the United States in 2013 were convicted criminals and recent border crossers. In addition, ICE documents also show the agency in 2013 released 68,000 potentially deportable immigrants deemed by ICE to pose a criminal threat. The Los Angeles Times reported recently that the deportation of illegal immigrants living and working in the interior of the country has declined 40 percent since 2009.

“Since 2009, your administration has issued policy directives and memoranda incrementally nullifying immigration enforcement in the interior of the United States – to the point that unless individuals in the country illegally are apprehended, tried, and convicted for a felony or other serious offense, they are free to live and work in the country,” the letter said.

“These policies have operated as an effective repeal of duly enacted federal immigration law and exceed the bounds of the Executive Branch’s prosecutorial discretion,” the Senators asserted. “Congress has not passed laws permitting people to illegally enter the country or to ignore their visa expiration dates, so long as they do not have a felony conviction or other severe offense on their record. Your actions demonstrate an astonishing disregard for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the rights of American citizens and legal residents,”

Cochran, who opposed immigration reform efforts in 1986, 2007 and again in 2013, recently cosponsored the ENFORCE the Law Act of 2014 (S.2118). This legislation would establish a process by which Congress could pass a resolution authorizing a civil action against a President or any Executive Branch official who fails to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.

In addition to Cochran, the April 24 letter to Obama was signed by Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and David Vitter (R-La.).

Senator Thad Cochran Press Release