Illegal immigration may be a controversial issue where liberals and conservatives rarely agree, but when Congress passes a law the president must follow it, right?
Well, maybe not.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are voicing their angst over a recent presidential action which, apparently, directly defied a mandate passed by Congress. President Obama is accused of rebranding an immigration post which was defunded in a bill passed unanimously by both houses of Congress – and signed by Obama himself.
Obama wanted a public advocate position created to aid both legal and illegal immigrants after they enter the United States. Federal lawmakers stood shoulder-to-shoulder in opposition to the post and refused to fund it.
“Some members of Congress became outraged that American taxpayer dollars were being used to fund a Homeland Security position that advocates on behalf of illegal immigrants,” Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, reported.
During the summer months the Obama administration very quietly changed the title of the position, without really changing either the job duties or even the name of the individual tapped to head the post. The old job title: Public Advocate. The new job title: “Deputy Assistant Director of the Custody Programs and Community Outreach.” The change in title also meant that President Obama could keep the post out of Congressional reach and erase the need to seek approval from the legislative branch, Judicial Watch said. Andrew Lorenzen-Strait held the former post and will hold the new post.
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“It’s simply part of the president’s well-established pattern of abusing his authority to blow off Congress, especially when it comes to immigration,” Judicial Watch reported.
Calls by Congress to the Obama administration to seek answers have so far gone unanswered. Rep. Diane Black, a Republican from Tennessee, is the one who spearheaded the effort to defund the position.
“Using taxpayer dollars to fund a position whose primary purpose is to advocate on behalf of individuals who have broken our laws and entered our country illegally is ridiculous and certainly a waste of precious taxpayers’ money,” Rep. Diane Black (R.-Tennessee) told FoxNews.com. “This is why language was inserted into the Continuing Resolution that was passed through the House and the Senate and signed into law last March that defunds the Public Advocate position.”
The resolution said, “None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to provide funding for the position of Public Advocate within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
The Obama administration, Black said, is “setting a dangerous precedent by breaking the very law he signed, and this kind of abuse of power will only undermine his agenda by destroying his credibility with Congress and the American people.”
The administration’s action goes against Obama’s pledge, early in his first term, to run a transparent government, critics say.
“My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government,” he said in a memo at the time. “We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in government.”
Said Black, “This is supposed to be the most transparent administration in the history of our country. I don’t think that’s … transparent, by going around Congress. He’s doing something that’s actually against the law … because I’m not sure where he got the money.”
Defunding the position had bipartisan support, Diane Black said.
“This is an issue that has been agreed upon by both Democrats and Republicans,” she said.