Republican lawmakers are vowing to counter the executive action by President Barack Obama that will shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The president made the announcement Thursday evening on sweeping immigration reform, and opposition Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate have expressed outrage.
Republican lawmakers were furious even before President Obama made the official announcement, expected to defer the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants who are the parents of American citizen children. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who will become the powerful Senate majority leader in January as a result of midterm elections, accused the president of disregarding the outcome of the Nov. 4 polls.
“If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act," McConnell said. "We’re considering a variety of options. But make no mistake. Make no mistake. When the newly elected representatives of the people take their seats, they will act.”
A number of Republicans accused the president of preparing an illegal amnesty and abuse of authority.
“Now, I can understand he can prioritize prosecution and deportation, and he has, but where does the president get the authority to issue work permits for millions of people?” said Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas.
A number of Democratic congressional leaders praised Obama for his courage, saying he is upholding family values by stopping families from being torn apart by deportations.
Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said the president's actions would help hardworking parents and family members, not felons.
He rejected allegations that the action amounts to amnesty.
“Doing nothing, leaving the current system in place, is amnesty," he said. "What the president is calling for is accountability.”
On the House side, Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa criticized the president for the timing of the announcement, coming as members were leaving Washington for the Thanksgiving holiday break.
“So that members of Congress have just left town, anxious to embrace our families and celebrate Thanksgiving, and so he drops this bomb in the middle of us," he said. "It will tear asunder this Constitution.”
Republican lawmakers say they are still considering how to respond when they return in early December.
King suggested that the House could pass a measure disapproving the president’s action.
The House and Senate have to pass a spending bill to fund the government by December 11, and there has been talk of using it to protest the president's actions on immigration.
But most Republican lawmakers say they do not want a government shutdown, like the October 2013 shutdown that lasted 16 days.