Wednesday, February 25, 2015


WASHINGTON – Today, during a full House Judiciary Committee hearing titled, “The Unconstitutionality of Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration,” Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. issued the following opening statement:

“In three days, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will run out of funds.  While tens of thousands of federal government workers could be furloughed, around 200,000 workers will be forced to come to work without receiving a pay check.  They will be told to patrol the border, conduct investigations, and secure our ports but they will not be paid.

“DHS has notoriously low morale.  That has been a problem since the Department’s creation a decade ago.  This won’t help.  But I am sure those workers will do their jobs, which is more than I can say for Congress.

“Why do I say that?  Because Congress has certain responsibilities—some are complicated and some are less complicated—and we have failed to live up to our responsibilities for years.

“First, consider the most basic obligation we have.  It is our responsibility to pass bills to fund the government.  If we don’t do our job the government shuts down.  Congressional Republicans got their wish in October 2013 and shut down the government for more than 2 weeks. 

“Now the Majority is again set on a collision course - this time they will shut down the Department of Homeland Security because they refuse to pass a clean spending bill because they want to block the administration’s executive actions on immigration.

“Keep in mind that the spending bill we are talking about was negotiated between Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate.  Truth be told, there are aspects of that bill that I disagree with.  I strongly oppose the detention bed mandate and believe that it is wasteful and unjust to include that language in the appropriations bill.  But I also understand the importance of funding DHS and the need to keep our nation safe.

“Second, Congress is also failing to do its job because it is ultimately our responsibility to fix our broken immigration system.  Instead of doing that work, we are holding hearing after hearing to vilify the President for taking important and common-sense steps to prioritize the deportation of felons before families. 

“The limited legislation that this committee has considered would make our immigration system even less efficient, less humane, and less able to meet the needs of American families and businesses.
 “Earlier this month we held two Immigration Subcommittee hearings on draft language of four deportation-only bills that would separate families, strip protection from DREAMers, destroy the agricultural industry and the millions of jobs that depend upon it, and return vulnerable children to face persecution and violence with no meaningful due process.
“Finally, I want to note that the title of today’s hearing demonstrates a glaring disrespect for the office of the presidency and for this institution’s responsibility to conduct oversight that is rooted in fact rather than political presumption.

“The title of today’s hearing is ‘The Unconstitutionality of Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration.’  Not ‘President Obama’s Executive Actions,’ but ‘Obama’s Executive Actions.’ Since when are we on such familiar terms with our Commander in Chief?  In cannot recall a previous Administration during which Members of Congress - from either side of the aisle - showed such a persistent disrespect for the office of the presidency.

“The title of this hearing is also interesting because it is a statement, not a question.  It just presumes that the Administration’s actions are unconstitutional, even though no court has found the actions unconstitutional and there is strong legal authority and historical precedent supporting these policy decisions.
“In closing, our current immigration system is not working for American families, businesses, or the economy.  These problems require real legislative solutions.  I urge my colleagues to start doing the job we were sent here to do.”
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