By Elton Gallegly
President Obama's decision to selectively enforce U.S. illegal immigration laws is a direct assault on the 14 million Americans and legal immigrants who are looking for a job to support themselves and their families. It will result in higher unemployment and lower wages and benefits for many Americans.
The administration announced in August that it will allow illegal immigrants facing deportation the chance to stay in the United States and apply for a work permit. Approximately 300,000 illegal immigrants are in custody and facing deportation.
The administration said it plans to review each case to determine if these 300,000 individuals' deportation orders will be reversed.
It is nothing more than a backdoor amnesty for people who are violating federal immigration laws.
When our immigration laws are enforced, legal workers benefit. Earlier this year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials conducted an investigation of Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants, which resulted in approximately 500 illegal immigrant workers being fired. By all accounts, Chipotle had no trouble hiring Americans citizens to immediately fill the positions. In 2008, after ICE raided a Columbia Farms processing plant in South Carolina and more than 300 illegal workers were detained, Columbia Farms quickly replaced all of the illegal workers.
The myth that illegal immigrants only take jobs that American workers will not do is just that: a myth. Recent studies estimate that most jobs associated with illegal immigrants are actually held by American citizens. Eighty percent of cooks, 75 percent of construction workers, 78 percent of housekeeping personnel and 75 percent of groundskeepers are legal American workers. That means that 20 percent of cooks, 25 percent of construction workers, 22 percent of housekeeping personnel and 25 percent of groundskeepers are illegal immigrants taking jobs from American workers.
Further, allowing illegal immigrants to continue to live and work in this country will only encourage more people to unlawfully cross our borders or overstay their visas. This will exacerbate our current economic downturn and foster disrespect for our nation's laws.
Congress has repeatedly declined to enact amnesty, the Dream Act, or any other proposal that would allow the legalization of large numbers of illegal immigrants. That the president announced his new policy while Congress was not in session is clearly an attempt to marginalize Congress.
The U.S. Constitution provides that Congress should establish immigration policy. It is the role of the executive branch to faithfully implement the laws. Any discretion granted to the president by Congress was intended to be limited and used rarely. Granting what is effectively an amnesty to 300,000 illegal immigrants in the process of being deported is a clear abuse of the president's discretion.
This newly announced policy gives credence to the American people's argument that President Obama is not focused on real job creation. Most every American, even those who are employed, believes our country faces enormous economic difficulties.
However, for the millions who are unemployed, this is not a time of economic difficulty or even a recession, this is a depression.
As President Harry Truman said, "It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours."
Every illegal immigrant who takes a job that would otherwise be filled by an American just adds to the number of Americans facing economic depression.
For the sake of hard-working Americans and the future of our country, I have asked the president to reverse this policy and work with Congress to enact common-sense immigration reform that will lower the number of Americans and legal immigrants who are unemployed and reduce the high number of illegal immigrants working in this country.
The federal government needs to be focused on helping businesses create jobs for American citizens, not forcing them to compete with illegal immigrants.
U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, represents the 24th Congressional District and is chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.