Earlier this month, President Obama announced he was changing deportation and work rules for some illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children. However, this change in policy was not the result of legislation, but rather a unilateral decision by the President without the approval of Congress.
There is no doubt our immigration system is broken. Over the years the federal government has fallen short of its responsibility to secure our borders and enforce our nation's immigration laws. This failure has forced some states, such as Arizona, to pass their own immigration laws to defend and protect their citizens.
As a member of the Immigration Reform Caucus, I am working diligently to craft and pass legislation which ensures the safety of our homeland, restores common sense to our immigration system, and acknowledges and values the contributions of those who came to our nation legally, as my great grandparents did. President Obama's newly announced policy accomplishes none of these goals.
An executive order allowing some illegal immigrants to avoid deportation is not a long-term solution to our nation's immigration challenges. Additionally, the timing of this decision, less than five months before the presidential election, suggests this ploy was an election year tactic rather than a serious effort to fix a problem.
Aside from the specific policy in question, the larger issue is the Obama Administration's willingness to overreach its authority and skew the balance of power toward the executive branch, as this case is not an isolated example. The President and his administration have made a pattern of working around Congress rather than working with it.
The President's executive branch agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), continue to issue thousands of new regulations which have the effect of law without the consent of Congress.
In Nebraska, we recently learned EPA has been using aerial surveillance to look for Clean Water Act violations over agricultural lands without Congressional knowledge or approval. The EPA has yet to answer questions regarding the national scope of the flights and has not adequately addressed concerns for the privacy and property rights of landowners.
Additionally, the President has cited executive privilege to withhold important Administration documents from a House committee investigating the failed gun running operation known as "Fast and Furious," which resulted in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. If the Administration continues to ignore the committee's request, the Attorney General could be held in contempt of Congress.
To reestablish Congressional responsibility for the legislative process and hold the President accountable, I have worked along with my House colleagues to propose serious regulatory reform measures.
For example, the House passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require Congressional approval of any new regulation with an annual economic impact of more than $100 million, before it can be enforced on the American people.
I also recently signed on as an original cosponsor of H.R. 5961, to rein-in the EPA's use of aerial surveillance and protect agricultural producers and landowners.
Our founders created three equal branches of government to prevent any person or group from assuming too much power. It is not too late for the President to reverse the current trend, but each time he acts without the authority of Congress, he diminishes the power and influence of the people's voice.