GOP Slams Obama for Easing of Immigration
February 10, 2014
February 10, 2014
The Obama administration has
eased the rules for would-be asylum-seekers, refugees and others who hope to
come to the
The change is one of President Barack Obama’s first actions on immigration since he pledged during his State of the Union address last month to use more executive directives.
The move was immediately greeted Sunday with an angry Republican backlash. Republican leaders like House Speaker John Boehner said last week that the GOP felt the president could not be trusted on immigration and that was what was hindering immigration reform. This unilateral move on a very controversial immigration regulation was precisely his point, he added.
Virginia GOP Rep. Robert
Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and part of the GOP House
leadership team working on immigration reform stated, “President Obama should be
Sen. Kelly Ayotte said there’s a significant “trust deficit” between Obama and Republicans that has derailed immigration reform.
“There is a real trust deficit right now that I think the speaker is facing,” she said when asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” by host Bob Schieffer about Boehner’s recently expressed doubts that immigration reform wouldn’t get done this year. Ayotte specifically mentioned the president’s executive actions as the main reason for the GOP’s apprehension.
Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions offered a scathing rebuke of the very ideal of “limited material support” to terrorists.
“Not only is this a national
security issue, but a financial issue: those granted admission gain access to
federal welfare programs funded by
Sessions specifically cited a recently-released audit of immigration systems that revealed that 70 percent of applications for asylum contained warning signs for fraud. He quoted warnings from USCIS union head Kenneth Palinkas’ that the immigration processing system has become a “visa clearing house for the world.”
“In light of these and other facts, it is thus deeply alarming that the Obama Administration would move unilaterally to relax admissions standards for asylum-seekers and potentially numerous other applicants for admission who have possible connections to insurgent or terrorist groups” Sessions, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, continued in the letter.
“This includes terror groups
not yet designated: Al Qaeda was not designated by the Department of State as a
foreign terrorist organization until 1999 — long after the first attack on the
For Morteza Assadi, a
49-year-old real estate agent in northern Virginia, the law has left him in a
sort of immigration purgatory while his green card application has been on hold
for more than a decade. Assadi said he told the
“When we are teenagers, we have different mindsets,” Assadi said. “I thought, I’m doing my country a favor.”
His lawyer, Parastoo Zahedi,
said she has filed case in federal court to force
“In the past, the minute your name was associated with a (terrorist) organization you were being punished,” Zahedi said. “Not every act is a terrorist act and you can’t just lump everyone together.”
The Homeland Security
Department said in a statement that the rule change, which was announced last
week and not made in concert with Congress, gives the government more
discretion, but won’t open the country to terrorists or their sympathizers.
People seeking refugee status, asylum and visas, including those already in the
In the past, the provision has been criticized for allowing few exemptions beyond providing medical care or acting under duress. The change now allows officials to consider whether the support was not only limited but potentially part of “routine commercial transactions or routine social transactions.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the rule change will help people he described as deserving refugees and asylum-seekers.
“The existing interpretation was so broad as to be unworkable,” Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement. He said the previous rule barred applicants for reasons “that no rational person would consider.”
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