March 20, 2014

CWS Statement on House of Representatives' Anti-Immigrant Legislation

Church World Service (CWS) is strongly opposed to two anti-immigrant bills recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 4138, The Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law Act (ENFORCE Act) and H.R. 3973, The Faithful Execution of the Law Act both passed the House of Representatives last week. While neither piece of legislation will advance to the U.S. Senate, the House is moving in the opposite direction of what is needed to reform our immigration system.

Both bills seek to derail the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that has broad bipartisan support and allows undocumented youth who arrived in the United States as children, frequently referred to as "DREAMers," to travel and work legally in the United States. The House Judiciary Committee has claimed that DACA is an example of the President’s “failure to enforce the law,” despite the fact that the Executive Branch has the authority to set enforcement priorities. CWS strongly supports the Administration's DACA program, as it provides undocumented youth the opportunity to work and not be continually in fear of deportation. 

The ENFORCE Act, H.R. 4138, would allow Members of Congress to sue the President when they believe that the President is failing to enforce the law, including by using prosecutorial discretion and DACA. The Faithful Execution of the Law Act, H.R. 3973, would require the Attorney General to report to Congress any internal policy regarding immigration enforcement, which again could include even informal and minor prosecutorial discretion decisions on specific cases.

Last summer, by a large bipartisan majority, the Senate passed immigration reform bill S. 744, which includes a path to citizenship for individuals who are undocumented. Speaker Boehner has refused to bring the bipartisan House counterpart, H.R. 15, up for a vote. CWS holds that, especially given the House's ongoing delay, President Obama should not only maintain, but should expand the use of his executive authority to stop deporting members of our families and communities who are undocumented.

"Rather than merely committing the sin of omission and delay on immigration reform, the House of Representatives has now proactively sought to deprive undocumented young people of the small respite they have in deferred action - the ability to work and travel lawfully," said the Rev. John L. McCullough, CWS President and CEO. "This calls for moral outrage. Our policy makers in the House refuse to  reunite separated families. They have shirked their responsibility to find real solutions to our broken immigration system. Now they are seeking to counteract the only positive immigration policy changes of the last decade. The time is now for Republicans in the House to take back their party and enact immigration reform, rather than allow themselves to be tied to these counterproductive bills."  

CWS urges all members of the House of Representatives to oppose The Enforce Act and The Faithful Execution of the Law Act, and to instead work toward real solutions that will reunite families and provide meaningful opportunities for our undocumented community members to apply for citizenship.