Two leading Republicans have dramatically quit the House’s “Gang of Seven” immigration panel, likely dealing a crippling blow to President Barack Obama’s top-priority effort to push through an immigration rewrite.
The two legislators blamed Obama’s practice of not enforcing laws, including immigration enforcement laws.
“We have reached a tipping point and can no longer continue working on a broad approach to immigration,” said a statement from the two Texas Republicans, John Carter and Sam Johnson, who were working with four Democratic legislators to craft a bill to increase immigration.
“Instead of doing what’s right for America, President Obama time and again has unilaterally disregarded the U.S. Constitution, the letter of the law and bypassed the Congress — the body most representative of the people — in order to advance his political agenda,” they wrote.
“We will not tolerate it. Laws passed by Congress are not merely suggestions, regardless of the current atmosphere. … Laws are to be respected and followed by all — particularly by the Commander-in-Chief,” said the statement.
Obama’s deputies have said one of his top legislative priorities is passage of a bill to double immigration.
The sharp criticism of Obama suggests that House Speaker John Boehner does not intend to schedule a House vote on the Senate’s immigration bill. Without a House vote, the Senate’s July immigration bill will not become law.
If approved, the Senate bill would triple immigration to allow the arrival of 33 million immigrants over 10 years. The bill is backed by progressives and business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce.
Last June, Obama used a campaign-style event in the Rose Garden to announce a conditional legalization for younger immigrants, even though Congress had repeatedly voted down the proposal. The legalization likely spurred Latino support for Obama in the 2012 election.
Obama has also directed his deputies to reduce other enforcement rules. For example, his deputies have released thousands of illegal immigrants from jails during sequester-related cutbacks, and have declined to deport many illegal immigrants arrested for drunk driving, traffic offenses or minor crimes.
Without Carter and Johnson in the “Immigration Working Group,” dubbed the “Gang of Seven,” the effort is left with only one Republican, Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. Another Republican, Rep. Raul Labrador, quit the group earlier.
The group also includes four Democratic legislators.
“I don’t know anyone who thinks [Obama] would hold up the executive branch’s side of an enforcement bargain,” said D.A. King, a Georgia-based immigration reformer and founder of the donor-funded Dustin Inman Society.
“I want to believe that majority of Americans have defeated amnesty yet another time, but I just don’t think the coalition of the far-left and the Chamber of Commerce are going to go away,” he told The Daily Caller.
But Republican leaders may yet snatch defeat from victory late this year by agreeing to a promised compromise with immigration advocates, King told TheDC. “The fat lady has not sung,” he warned.