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Lamar Smith: Obama's amnesty for illegal immigrants is against the law

The Obama administration decision for immunity from deportation for young illegal immigrants is a breach of faith with Americans. It also blatantly ignores the law. This isn't the first time Obama has waived rules or refused to enforce laws against illegal immigration, writes Rep. Smith.

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President Obama responds June 15 as he is interrupted while announcing that his administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants. Op-ed contributor Rep. Lamar Smith writes that to 'ignore Congress and the Constitution is exactly what the president has done.'

Susan Walsh/AP

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It’s said that desperate times call for desperate measures. But in these dismal economic and political times, the Obama administration has called for unlawful measures that grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants.

Today, Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security, announced immunity from deportation for illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and who are younger than 30 – among other criteria. They can apply for a two-year work permit that can be renewed indefinitely.

The decision is not just a breach of faith with the American people. It blatantly ignores the rule of law that is the foundation of our democracy.

In an interview with Univision television earlier this year, President Obama said that he can’t just “waive away the laws that Congress put in place” and that “the president doesn’t have the authority to simply ignore Congress and say, ‘We’re not going to enforce the laws that you’ve passed.’”

But ignore Congress and the Constitution is exactly what the president has done –  and this isn’t the first time. Throughout the past three years of his administration, Mr. Obama has waived applying several of our immigration rules and has refused to enforce other immigration laws.

Earlier this year, administration officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) outlined their plan to ignore a rule that requires illegal immigrants to leave the US before they can then ask the federal government to waive a law that bans them from legally returning here for several years.

While the waiver of this rule is sometimes allowed under current law, it is only applied on a case-by-case basis, not to entire categories of illegal immigrants. But Obama and his administration have bent these established rules by applying them to potentially millions of illegal immigrants.

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