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Eye On Boise

Idaho delegation responds to president’s immigration proposals

Three members of Idaho's congressional delegation issued statements after President Barack Obama's immigration speech last night, blasting the president for taking executive action on the issue; the fourth, Sen. Jim Risch, weighed in shortly after noon today. Here are their statements; click below for a summary from the Associated Press of the key elements of Obama's executive action.

Sen. Mike Crapo:

“Rather than listening to the American people and respecting their voices in the last election, the President will instead impose his deliberately divisive action on the important issue of illegal immigration. This unfortunate choice by the President will, most importantly, hurt immigrants in the long run and undercut future prospects for lasting immigration reform.  In addition, the President has done an about-face on his executive role. Just last year, he said ‘I’m not the emperor of the United States.  My job is to execute laws that are passed.’  However, his administration has repeatedly tried to side-step Congress through the use of Executive Order.  The inherent checks and balances between the branches of government are a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy, and these actions set a dangerous precedent by violating our basic Constitutional principles.  

“No one should gain any advantage or benefit toward citizenship or legal permanent resident status because of illegal entry into the United States.  The unilateral legal protections provided lawlessly to millions of illegal immigrants by the President—benefits that legal immigrants must wait years to obtain—pose a profound  threat to our immigration system and rule of law, discouraging those who seek to come to America from doing so legally.  I will continue to press for a solid solution that will secure our nation’s borders and advocate for sound, sensible immigration policies.”

1st District Rep. Raul Labrador:

“Today President Obama conceded his failure as a leader on immigration. Instead of finding common ground with Congress, he chose to bail out his bankrupt presidency through an order he has already admitted he cannot legally take. He violated his promise to champion reform in his first term, sabotaged bipartisan House negotiations in his second and bred distrust by failing to faithfully enforce the law throughout. Now he wants to save face by imposing unilaterally what he could not achieve democratically. Congress must defend its constitutional role to make laws and immediately block his illegal action through all available avenues.”

 “The president’s action not only undermines efforts to achieve real reform – it is directly opposed to it. Real reform starts with enforcing current laws, securing the border and modernizing the visa system. Only a system that works – that drives immigrants into viable avenues for legal entry – will end illegal immigration and protect the rule of law. That is what I will continue to fight for – no matter who occupies the White House.”

2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson:

“Let me be clear, the President's actions tonight are illegal, unconstitutional, and contrary to the way in which the American people expect the President and Congress to interact. They have the potential to throw us into a Constitutional Crisis.”

“Apparently the President didn't get the message the American people sent to him two weeks ago. At the same time, I strongly believe my party's response to this inappropriate executive action should be measured and realistic.  We cannot shut down the government, impeach the President, or allow this issue to impede progress on deficit reduction, tax reform, or other critical priorities for the American people.  Instead, we should fight this edict early next year in any realistic way we can, fight the President in the courts, and move expeditiously to enact a more responsible, effective and lasting approach to immigration reform.”

Sen. Jim Risch:

“These are troubling times for America, when the President of the United States by executive decree seizes the Constitutional lawmaking power that belongs to the first branch of government. Regardless of the issue or who is president, every American should be deeply distressed by this new government the president is attempting to establish.”

Key elements of Obama's actions on immigration 
By JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's sweeping changes to the U.S.immigration system could shield nearly 5 million people here illegally from deportation, without going through Congress. A look at the key executive measures Obama announced Thursday:



Protect from deportation and make eligible for work permits approximately 4.1 million people who are in the U.S. illegally but whose children are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, regardless of whether the children are minors. To be eligible, the parents must have lived in the U.S. for five years. After passing background checks and paying fees, parents would be granted relief from deportation for three years at a time.



Expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Obama launched in 2012. It shields from deportation those minors who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Obama will extend the program to minors who arrived before 2010, instead of the current cutoff of 2007, and lift the requirement that applicants be under 31 to be eligible. About 250,000 people could be affected. Future relief under DACA will also be extended to three years at a time, up from two years.



Lower the deportation priority for parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who have been in the U.S. for less than five years, and for other immigrants who have been here illegally for more than 10 years. A new policy will emphasize deportation for recent arrivals, criminals and national security threats.



Replace the Secure Communities program, which hands over people booked for local crimes to federal immigration authorities. The new program will be called the "Priority Enforcement Program" and will set up different priority levels based on the conduct for which immigrants are detained.



Commit more resources for enforcement efforts at the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes sending back more individuals who attempt to cross the border.



Increase salaries for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, who will play a larger role in law enforcement, to bring them in line with other policing agencies like the FBI.



Make other immigration changes sought by businesses, such as a parole-in-place program that could affect another several hundred thousand people.



Loosen eligibility requirements for a waiver program for people seeking green cards. People who entered the U.S. illegally must leave the country for as much as 10 years before getting in line for a green card unless they get a waiver.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press


Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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