Over the last year, the Obama Administration has announced several changes to how it will identify and deport illegal immigrants, claiming it had authority to do this because of its "prosecutorial discretion." Then, last week, the White House doubled down on their claim of "prosecutorial discretion" when it announced it would grant a deportation waiver to younger illegal immigrants who were brought to the US as children by their parents and make them eligible for a work visa. Congressman Westmoreland joined millions of Americans in expressing his outrage at the president's actions and since the announcement has been working with his colleagues in the House to find a way to stop the president from circumventing Congress and creating his own laws. For that reason, he has thrown his full support behind H.R. 2497, the Hindering Administration's Legalization Temptation (HALT) Act.
"I'm proud to announce my support for the HALT Act," stated Westmoreland. "It's clear the president has no respect for the Constitution and will continue to push the envelope and abuse his executive powers unless Congress does something to stop him. This legislation would prevent the president from issuing these sweeping declarations when it comes to federal immigration law. And I want everyone to know I'm also keeping my eye out for any additional steps I can take to stop the president from implementing this unconstitutional plan. This is an affront to our rule of law and our Constitution, and he must be stopped."
Under the president's new plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they came to the United States before they turned 16 years old, are younger than 30 years old, and have been in the country for at least five continuous years. In addition, they must have no criminal history, have graduated from a US high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. If they meet these criteria, they will also be eligible for a work permit good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. Officials have stated that while children who are younger than 16 will not be eligible for the deportation waiver, they too will not be deported.
"Look, this isn't just a question about illegal immigration. It's a question about what authority the president has been granted under the Constitution," stated Westmoreland. "And on this, the Constitution is very clear. Congress is granted sole authority to draft and implement laws -- not the president. It is true that the Executive Branch has some discretion regarding the implementation of federal laws when exercised responsibly on a case-by-case basis. However, the Obama Administration's decision to grant deportation waivers en masse to upwards of 800,000 illegal immigrants is a dramatic abuse of that authority and essentially grants administrative amnesty."
The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee where hearings have been held in the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. Congressman Westmoreland has also signed on to cosponsor two additional bills expected to be introduced sometime this week or next that will eliminate the president's ability to use this back-door to amnesty. The bills will be introduced by Congressman David Schweikert (AZ-05) and Congressman Ben Quayle (AZ-03).