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Conservatives Decry Administration Ideas on Immigration

Conservatives are up in arms about a draft memo laying out ways the Obama administration could amend immigration policies without pushing comprehensive immigration reform through Congress. The memo, reportedly written by four U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services staffers, discusses potential policy changes that would help non-dangerous immigrants already in the U.S. obtain citizenship or avoid deportation.

Republicans and pro-enforcement advocates aren’t pleased with the idea and are telling the staunchly conservative Washington Times that the memo proves Obama wants to bypass Congress on immigration policy:

“This memo gives credence to our concerns that the administration will go to great lengths to circumvent Congress and unilaterally execute a backdoor amnesty plan,” Mr. Grassley said. [...]

Rosemary Jenks, government relations manager for NumbersUSA, an organization that advocates for stricter immigration limits, said the memo is “an outrageous usurpation of congressional authority. It is unconstitutional, and a slap in the face to the American people.”

She said that the memo could explain why the push for an immigration bill has faltered in Congress.

“This makes sense of the fact that [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and Obama are sitting back calmly content with not moving immigration reform this year – because they know Obama is trying to take care of it for them, without Democrats having to be tied down to a vote before the election,” she said.

A spokesman from USCIS confirmed the existence of the memo to The Washington Times, but cautioned that “nobody should mistake deliberation and exchange of ideas for final decisions.”

Still, the notion that the government should find a way to deal with immigrants already here fits into the Obama administration’s views on immigration. Obama said earlier this month it would be impossible to deport all of the 11 million people in the country illegally, and the Department of Homeland Security has said it will prioritize illegal immigrants who have committed dangerous crimes. With deportations up across the board and many non-dangerous immigrants swept up in enforcement initiatives such as Secure Communities, it seems unsurprising that the administration would look at options to better target enforcement.

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