House Votes to Undo 4 Years of Obama’s Immigration Policies
Josh Siegel /
The GOP-led House voted today to undo major portions of President Obama’s immigration policy, including his recent executive actions and an earlier program that allowed immigrants who entered the country illegally as children—a group known as Dreamers—to stay.
In voting 236-191 to pass a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security through the end of September, the House approved five amendments that revoke four years of Obama’s immigration policies, such as his November directive to defer deportation for up to 5 million immigrants living in the country illegally and granting them work permits.
But the most contentious amendment, a measure that would end a 2012 program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was barely approved 218-209, with 26 Republicans voting no, and zero Democratic votes.
No votes on the DACA amendment include, among others: Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida; Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California; and Mike Coffman of Colorado; New York Reps. Peter T. King and Richard Hanna; and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. (See the full roll call vote.)
Though GOP leaders say the results of the vote show the party is united against Obama’s immigration policies, some moderate Republicans — by voting against the measure ending DACA — signaled they think the aggressive actions have gone too far.
“We do not take this action lightly, but simply there is no alternative,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said on the floor Wednesday. “This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself.”
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The White House has said Obama will not sign any bill that blocks his executive actions on immigration. There is also doubt that the House plan could gain the 60 votes in the Senate needed to break a Democratic filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not said when his chamber will take up a vote on the House plan.
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The White House quickly pounced on the House’s vote.
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, called the House plan “mean-spirited.”
“It’s essentially a vote for amnesty,” said Earnest, flipping around a common accusation made by critics of Obama’s executive actions.
“It is essentially a vote for amnesty,” says @PressSec of the House plan.
Immigration advocates also criticized the House’s actions to end legal protections for millions of illegal immigrants.
Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, tweeted that Congress should pass its own “positive” bills to benefit the immigration system.
Fighting #ExecutiveAction is short-sighted. We need real reform because #immigration is about people, not politics http://t.co/HeLMc3uG6Q
— Ali Noorani (@anoorani) January 14, 2015
Obama has said that if Congress were to pass its own bills addressing the status of the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally, his executive actions would be unnecessary.
One prominent senator who previously led an effort to pass such “comprehensive” immigration reform tweeted support for the House plan blocking Obama’s actions.
I applaud House vote rolling back Obama's #ExecutiveAction on #immigration – we must push back vs illegal power-grab http://t.co/kMylAuCboi
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 14, 2015
In blocking Obama’s immigration policies, the House also voted for an amendment that forces immigration officials to treat immigrants convicted of offenses involving domestic violence, sexual abuse, child molestation or child exploitation as top enforcement priorities.
In addition, the House plan restores the “Secure Communities” enforcement program that Obama ended with his executive actions, while also forcing state and local officials to comply with so-called ICE detainers, in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement asks local law enforcement agencies to keep immigrants in custody, even if they would “otherwise be released.”