By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, February 17, both US Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) and US Representative Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) both issued statements urging the Senate to Pass DHS Funding in light of a ruling by a federal judge enjoining President Barack H. Obama’s controversial unilateral policy of granting legal status and work permits to millions of immigrants who are living illegally in this country and issuing executive actions making it easier for corporations to import more foreign workers into the United States. Republicans have been arguing for months that the President’s Executive Actions are unconstitutional.
A federal court in the Southern District of Texas has issued a temporary stay on the pending implementation of President Obama’s unilateral executive action related to immigration to give 26 states, including Alabama, time to present their case in court challenging the President’s unilateral changes to American immigration law.
Senator Sessions said in a written statement, “The court’s ruling is yet further affirmation that the President’s action – as the President himself admitted many times – is illegal. President Obama has suspended some 500 pages of existing immigration law passed by the representatives of the American people, and replaced it with the very measures those representatives have repeatedly rejected. The President’s action violates our laws, our Constitution, and the centuries of legal heritage that yielded our Republic.” According to Sen. Sessions office the President’s executive amnesty would provide illegal immigrants with work permits, photo ID’s, social security benefits, Medicare coverage, cash tax credits, and the possibility of citizenship and chain migration.
Congressman Palmer said in his statement, “This ruling is the first step in restoring constitutional governance by respecting and upholding the separation of powers. The ruling should come as no surprise to the Obama Administration or members of Congress given the clear lack of constitutional authority to support President Obama’s executive order.”
Sen. Sessions continued, “Congress, so threatened, can never acquiesce to this action by funding it. The President has acted unconstitutionally, and it is the President – not Congress – who must back down. We are a coequal branch of government, delegated with the powers necessary to defend our institution and our Constitutional role. We cannot and must not establish the precedent that we will fund illegal actions on the hope that another branch of government will intervene and strike down that illegal action at some later point. To establish such a precedent would be to empower any future President to demand Congress fund any unlawful decree, and then assert that Congress is ‘shutting down the government’ unless this illegal, off-the-books program is funded. Congress must reassert its waning power. We must reestablish the Constitutional principle that the people’s representatives control the purse.”
Rep. Palmer added, “Now that a federal judge has stayed the Obama Administration from implementing the executive order to grant amnesty to almost five million illegal aliens, there is no need for the Senate to delay passage of the DHS funding bill passed by the House of Representatives.”
Sen. Sessions continued, ““This ruling is not an escape hatch for Democrat lawmakers who have been filibustering… We cannot and must not establish the precedent that we will fund illegal actions on the hope that another branch of government will intervene and strike down that illegal action at some later point… Today’s ruling should furnish our colleagues with yet one more reason to end their filibuster… President Obama has already shut down the Department of Homeland Security by ordering tens of thousands of immigration officers and agents to violate our laws and their oaths, sabotaging immigration enforcement and border control. Republicans are trying every day to restore Homeland Security – only a Democrat filibuster stands in the way.”
Rep. Palmer said, “The fact that the House bill did not include funding for the processing and assimilating the illegal aliens should be a moot point and should not prevent passage of the bill. Unless the Democrats in the Senate wish to ignore the decision of the court, they should end their filibuster and allow the DHS funding bill to go to the Senate floor.”
Rep. Palmer concluded, “The House-passed DHS funding bill is consistent with the federal judge’s order and provides the funding necessary for ensuring that DHS can carry out its mission without undue and unnecessary interruption. The court decision affirms what President Obama had previously said; he had no authority to act unilaterally. Now is the time for the Senate to pass the DHS Appropriations bill that has already cleared the House and would restore separation of powers.”
In the waning hours of the previous Congress, the two parties agreed to a continuing resolution, C.R., which kept the government running until October 1. All the government except the Department of Homeland Security, since that is the Department charged with defending the borders against unwelcome immigrants as well as other threats. Homeland Security was funded only until the end of February. The President has demanded that Congress fund the carrying out of his unilateral executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. The Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that keeps the Department funded but does not include funding for President Obama’s controversial executive amnesty. The Republicans, for the first time since 2006, now control the US Senate; but they lack the 60 votes necessary to shut off debate and end a Democrat filibuster of the House Homeland Security bill.
Meanwhile the President’s controversial program to expand his 2012 amnesty have been put on hold by the ruling. The Administration is appealing the ruling and is asking an appeals court to lift the stay.
Former US Attorney and Alabama Attorney General Jeff Sessions has represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate since his election in 1996 to replace the retiring Howell Heflin (D).
Congressman Gary Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District. This is Palmer’s first term in the United States Congress after 24 years leading the conservative Alabama Policy Institute (API). Rep. Palmer follows the long tenure of Representative Spencer Bachus (R).
Sessions is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest.