The following is a complete reprint (by permission) of an original opinion article by US Representative Dave Bratt in the Chesterfield Observer.
On Nov. 4, the American people spoke loudly and clearly on illegal immigration and President Obama’s repeated overreaches of his authority. Within weeks of the election, the president tried to single-handedly rewrite America’s immigration laws by granting amnesty by “executive decree” to five million illegal aliens already in this country. It was a move that he previously said he had no constitutional authority to execute. He also acknowledged that only Congress could rewrite the laws. Yet he did it anyway.
This week, I was pleased to see the House Republican leadership take a firm stand in the new Congress by introducing legislation to defund the president’s illegal and unconstitutional amnesty proposal.
Defunding Mr. Obama’s illegal act is a stand on principle and an even greater stand on adhering to the Constitution. It tells the American people that Congress respects the wishes they expressed Nov. 4 and that Congress will fight to preserve the rule of law. It also shows that Congress respects their wallets and will fight to preserve their jobs. Our constitutionally guaranteed liberties, our rule of law, and our economic opportunities are precisely the things that immigrants come to America to experience. And our Constitution, rule of law, and economic prosperity are precisely the things that we will be giving up if we allow the president to break our laws to give amnesty and work permits to those who are here illegally.
House Republicans are proposing five amendments to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, H.R. 240, to prohibit federal funds from being used for amnesty. DHS is the department that houses Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where much of Obama’s decree will be carried out. The appropriations bill itself – which would fund DHS until Sept. 30 – did not include language to defund the president’s actions, so it’s vitally important that the bill includes these amendments.
The most critical amendment is the Aderholt amendment, which prevents the federal government from using any funds to grant amnesty and work permits to illegal aliens. It also states that no federal benefits may be given to any illegal alien. Once the Aderholt amendment is adopted, I will support the appropriations bill. Without the Aderholt amendment, the president will be able to continue with his illegal amnesty.
There are signals that these amendments will be headed for a fight in the Senate. Surrender there is not an option. Republicans must force Senate Democrats to take one of the most important votes of their careers. The president’s amnesty is not only illegal, it is patently unconstitutional. If Congress fails to stop his overreach, future presidents will continue to expand the power of the Executive Branch beyond its legal boundaries, threatening the very liberty of the American people.
Some Democrats are already using scare tactics to say that by merely stopping the president’s amnesty scheme, Republicans are somehow not protecting the homeland. Nothing could be further from the truth. None of the defund language affects DHS’ ability to protect American citizens. In fact, defunding the president’s amnesty will significantly increase our ability to protect our borders by discouraging people from illegally entering the country.
Last week, I expressed my differences with House leadership on several policy issues. This week, I want to thank the leadership for delivering on their promise to fight on one of the biggest issues facing America – and an issue of major importance to the people of the 7th District.
Throughout my campaign for office, I said that I was running on principles, not for or against personalities. The voters know where I stand because I articulated those principles early and often – principles such as the belief that free markets are the best supplier of human needs, that government must exercise restraint when spending taxpayers’ money, and that government must protect citizens’ liberty by observing the constitutional limitations on its own power.
Those principles are based on the Republican creed, but they’re also principles Americans have held for more than 200 years. They are responsible for giving us the freedom and prosperity that we enjoy as a nation today. I make my decisions in the House based on them, and I will work with anyone who will work with me to advance them.
U.S. Rep. Dave Brat represents Chesterfield and the 7th District