WASHINGTON -- House Republicans plan to hold hearings, perhaps within the next three weeks, to fight back against a new Obama administration deportation policy that will allow some undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.
The hearings will likely focus on the American jobs Republicans say will be lost to undocumented immigrants who will remain in the country, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), chairman of the House immigration subcommittee, hinted on Tuesday.
"This is consistent with the Obama jobs program -- just another way to lose another 300,000 or 400,000 American jobs," said Gallegly, adding he doesn't know "whether [Obama] cares or he doesn't care. If he doesn't care, it makes sense. If it does care, it questions his intelligence."
The Obama administration announced on Aug. 18 that it would conduct reviews of some 300,000 deportation cases, closing some if the immigrants in question were deemed low priority. Some, but not all, of those allowed to stay will be granted work authorization.
While the Republican presidential field has remained silent on the issue, the move outraged congressional Republicans, who have decried the bill as amnesty. In response, the House subcommittee on immigration, part of the Judiciary Committee, will hold hearings to learn more about the policy, Gallegly confirmed.
It's a move that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an ardent supporter of deportations and a member of the subcommittee, called for in an Aug. 25 press release.
"This is the latest example of the Obama administration acting as if it does not have to enforce laws if it finds those laws to be inconvenient," King said in the release. "I will be insisting on Congressional hearings so that President Obama's appointees will have to answer questions under oath about their use of executive amnesty to reward immigration lawbreakers with the objective of their crime."
King said on Monday that the administration must answer for its deportation policy. He also called for a look into whether Obama's undocumented uncle, Onyango Obama, received preferential treatment after his arrest for drunk driving.
"The president takes an oath of office that requires him to make sure the laws of Congress are faithfully executed," King said. "Instead, this president has decided to defy the rule of law."
The White House has said Obama's uncle would be handled through normal channels and would not receive special treatment because of his relation to the president.
Smith and Gallegly dismissed the Obama administration's argument that the new deportation policy is necessary for the Department of Homeland Security to focus its limited resources on what it calls the "worst of the worst," undocumented people who have committed crimes.
"I don't have a nice word for what that is," King said.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the top Republican on the Senate immigration subcommittee, applauded the House GOP's decision to look into the issue.
"We all understand prosecutorial discretion and prioritizing cases, but on the other hand, if it's ... undermining the obligation of the executive branch to enforce the laws that Congress has passed, that's another thing entirely," he said. "I think hearings are quite appropriate."