WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) — One Democratic congressman is calling on President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to help reform immigration.
Speaking to C-Span Wednesday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., wants Obama to use executive orders to stop deportations of certain groups of illegal immigrants.
“I think the president should continue to expand on his executive authority to stop the deportations of certain groups of immigrants in this country,” Gutierrez told C-Span. “I think there are … millions of American citizen children, who through no fault of their own have parents that are undocumented in this country who are working.”
Gutierrez said there are differences between foreigners and immigrants who live here.
“There are foreigners that come here and there are immigrants that come here and I make a distinction between the two. The immigrants come here to do valuable work,” Gutierrez told C-Span.
The White House is pushing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants currently living in the U.S., while Republicans balk at that condition.
Gutierrez stated that it is “not a realistic alternative” to deport millions.
“Can you imagine trying to round up 11 million people?” Gutierrez said. “There’s 5 million American citizen children.”
The congressman added: “You’re not going to deport yourself out of the problem.”
Last week, the Obama administration eased rules for would-be asylum-seekers, refugees and others who hope to come to the United States or stay here and who gave “limited” support to terrorists or terrorist groups.
The change is one of Obama’s first actions on immigration since he pledged during his State of the Union address last month to use more executive directives.
The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department now say that people considered to have provided “limited material support” to terrorists or terrorist groups are no longer automatically barred from the United States.
A post-Sept. 11 provision in immigrant law, known as terrorism related inadmissibility grounds, had affected anyone considered to have given support. With little exception, the provision has been applied rigidly to those trying to enter the U.S. and those already here but wanting to change their immigration status.
The Homeland Security Department said in a statement that the rule change, which was announced last week and not made in concert with Congress, gives the government more discretion but won’t open the country to terrorists or their sympathizers. People seeking refugee status, asylum and visas, including those already in the United States, still will be checked to make sure they don’t pose a threat to national security or public safety, the department said.
In the past, the provision has been criticized for allowing few exemptions beyond providing medical care or acting under duress. The change now allows officials to consider whether the support was not only limited but potentially part of “routine commercial transactions or routine social transactions.”
“Refugee applicants are subject to more security checks than any other category of traveler to the United States,” Homeland Security spokesman Peter Boogaard said. “Nothing in these exemptions changes the rigorous, multilayered security screening we do.”
Republican lawmakers argued that the administration is relaxing rules designed by Congress to protect the country from terrorists.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called the change naive given today’s global terrorist threats.
“President Obama should be protecting U.S. citizens rather than taking a chance on those who are aiding and abetting terrorist activity and putting Americans at greater risk,” said Goodlatte, R-Va.
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