1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to secondary content

Latino Daily News

Tuesday June 28, 2011

Congressman Smith Looks to Block Obama Administration’s (Unused) Ability to Stop Deportations

Congressman Smith Looks to Block Obama Administration’s (Unused) Ability to Stop Deportations

Photo: Congressman Smith Looks to Block Obama Administration's (Unused) Ability to Stop Deportations

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Texas Rep. Lamar Smith is sponsoring a bill that serves to block President Obama’s administration from using its executive power to grant amnesty to undocumented immigrants.

The Republican congressman’s bill comes after the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement endorsed the practice of not deporting undocumented immigrants arrested for minor crimes, those in school, or those with family members in the U.S. military.

The Obama administration has yet to use the very power that Smith’s bill would take away, so many find it curious that he and others backing the bill would try stopping the possibility of something that could have already happened, but has not.

What is also interesting is the fact that Cong. Smith had previously pushed for this very power to be in the presidents hands. He signed a letter to then-Attorney General Janet Reno in 1999 urging her to help stop the deportation of undocumented family members of U.S. citizens.

A portion of the 1999 letter read:

We write to you because some believe you have discretion to alleviate some of the hardships, and we wish to solicit your views as to why you’ve been unwilling to exercise such authority. True hardship cases call for the exercise of such discretion.

The legislation that Smith is now trying to get passed, the Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation Act (the HALT Act) calls for, not all presidents to be stripped of this executive power, just President Obama.

The HALT Act states that its provision would not apply “to the next president whom the American people elect,” just President Obama.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) stated that he found the HALT Act “concerning,” as its provisions only apply to the current president.

“If it’s good public policy, it should be left in everyone’s hands; if it’s bad public policy, it should be abolished. He’s agreeing that it’s good public policy, or he would abolish it, but saying [Obama] would abuse it. It’s just politics, politics, politics.”