The Norman Transcript

Columns

March 15, 2014

Congress hard at work on nothing

NORMAN — Sadly, the American public does not have a thunderbolt to throw at Congress to get its members to quit acting like petulant children and focus on doing the work of the nation. In their latest tantrum, House Republicans passed a measure to sue President Barack Obama for not enforcing law. His supposed laxity on immigration measures tops the list of grievances, but he’s also not prosecuting medical marijuana suppliers to the GOP’s satisfaction. His attorney general is pressing for minimum sentencing for low-level and nonviolent drug offenders, and of course there are the usual complaints about health care reform and education policy. Any and every issue that pushes a button in the party’s base has been thrown into this bill designed to pester the president, nothing else.

House Republicans call it the “Enforce Act.” It passed 233 to 181. They’re calling the president out for using executive orders. But many of these same Republicans put the pen into his hand by refusing to negotiate reforms to current law. The act would give Congress the ability to sue the president when he displeases them. And what displeases them is a long and growing list. Immigration is a great example. Republicans cite Obama’s policy that has given some protection against deportation to children brought illegally to the U.S. by their immigrant parents. These are the students known as “Dreamers.” Many of them grew up not realizing they weren’t legally in the country. Most often, they find out as teenagers when they try to register for a driver’s license or get a federally funded loan for college. Being undocumented, they can’t.

Obama instituted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals when comprehensive immigration reform stalled. Under certain conditions, the policy gives such children the ability to stay in the country and continue their studies. It’s not amnesty. It’s not citizenship.

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