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House committee demands details on Obama's new immigration effort

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)

Opposition to President Obama’s newly-announced less restrictive immigration enforcement policy aimed at young adults continued to build almost a week after it was unveiled, as the House Judiciary Committee's chairman on June 20 demanded information on the policy’s effects on immigration and the Constitution.

Committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) fired off two letters lambasting the policy and demanding more details on its enforcement. The first went to the White House asking President Obama to provide legal opinions from the Justice Department regarding the policy’s constitutionality.  The second letter insisted U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director Alejandro Mayorkas provides details about how the agency would prevent fraud in the processing and implementation of the policy, among other things. 

The president’s less-restrictive enforcement policy, unveiled on June 15, would give some children and young adults under 30 a break on deportation prosecutions if they meet certain requirements.

The move has been heavily criticized as unconstitutional and backdoor amnesty by conservatives. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has said he will sue the administration to block the new effort. Some liberals have criticized it for not going far enough in reforming immigration laws.

In his letters, Smith said the policy was a “breach of faith” that “blatantly ignores the rule of law” and “could grant amnesty in the guise of ‘deferred action’ and work authorization to potentially millions of illegal immigrants.”

Smith said the policy side-steps Congress which “raises serious constitutional questions about the legitimacy of the policy.”

“I respectfully request that you provide to the House Judiciary Committee any legal opinions from the Justice Department regarding what authority the Administration has to impose immigration policies without congressional approval.” 

Smith told Mayorkas the policy was “a magnet for fraud” and would encourage illegal immigrants to buy fake documents showing they arrived in the U.S. before they were 16. The policy, among other stipulations, grants more lenient enforcement to those who can prove they were in the U.S. before they turned 16 and had been in the country more than five years. “And many ‘entrepreneurs’ will be eager to meet the demand for fake documents,” he said.