Chairman Carper Statement on President’s Executive Action on Immigration

WASHINGTON – This evening, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the following reaction to President Obama’s executive action on immigration:

“American voters sent Congress a clear message on Election Day: They want us to grow the economy, cut the deficit, and work together.

“A year and a half ago, the Senate overwhelmingly approved bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would modernize our broken immigration system, strengthen our borders and ports of entry, and enhance our national security in a manner that is practical, tough, and fair. While it isn’t perfect, the Senate’s bill, which I championed, is a significant improvement over the status quo. It also does what the voters told Congress to do: it grows our Gross Domestic Product by as much as five percent over the next 20 years and reduces our budget deficit by nearly a trillion dollars over the next 20 years.

“Unfortunately, the House of Representatives did not follow the Senate’s lead and has left this critical issue unresolved for 17 months. Even more disappointing, the leadership in the House has stated over and over again that they will not act on the Senate bill.

“The President is rightly frustrated that Congress has failed to send him comprehensive immigration reform legislation he can sign into law.  In fact, the House has failed to debate immigration reform at all, or offer any alternatives of its own to the work the Senate has done.  Their inaction on such an important issue is inexcusable, and I share the President’s frustration. Given Congress’ inability to act, it is understandable for the President to examine ways the Administration can legally address the current needs of our country and the realities of the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the shadows.

“But let me be clear: this executive action is not the final word on this issue.  It is just a temporary Band-Aid that does not fully or permanently address the deep-rooted problems with our current immigration system, or the violence and lack of economic opportunity in Central America that led to a humanitarian crisis on our southern border this past summer.

“While I support the President’s goals in the executive action, my first, second, and third choice is to have a permanent, bipartisan solution to our broken immigration system. It is crucial that Congressional leadership, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, and the Administration put politics aside and work together to pass a sensible, comprehensive, and permanent solution that addresses the underlying root causes of unauthorized immigration, and modernizes our immigration laws to enhance our national and economic security as soon as possible.

“I hope that bipartisanship and action on other critical issues that must be resolved before the end of the year do not suffer as a result of this announcement’s timing. It would be irresponsible for members of Congress to use the Administration’s action as an excuse to thwart progress on other important matters in the weeks ahead. We still have important work to accomplish in the lame duck – from funding the day-to-day operations of our government to strengthening our nation’s cyber defenses to confirming critical nominations to reforming the U.S. Postal Service. I am hopeful that our Republican colleagues will continue to work with Democrats to address these critical issues for our nation before the end of the year.”