Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said Thursday that the best chance America has to beat back President Barack Obama's immigration plans is to let Republicans control the Senate, which could allow Congress to starve Obama of the funding he needs to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.
Obama has said he would take some unilateral action on immigration after the election. The best guess is a plan to extend green cards to millions of people over the next few years, since the government is planning to ramp up production of green cards.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala). said Thursday that a Republican-led Senate could take steps to stop Obama from implementing his plans to unilaterally reshape U.S. immigration policy. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Sessions noted Thursday that the House has already passed a bill that would prevent Obama from implementing his plans, and that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has blocked this bill from coming to the floor. Sessions said on Bill Bennett's radio show that a GOP-led Senate could hold that vote.
"It's something we can do, all we have to do is pass a common bill that says you can't expend any money to execute any such amnesty contrary to law," he said. Sessions said it's possible that Democrats themselves could come around and oppose Obama's plan, but so far, he said that "not one of them have even openly and directly condemned this."
"So I do think we've got to have an election victory to have the kind of prospects we'd like," he said. "This is not a dead loser, this can be won."
Sessions added that if Republicans can win at least six seats and control the Senate again, that victory would send a message to President Obama that "people care about this," and that Obama can't unilaterally decide U.S. immigration policy.
Obama has frustrated Republicans by indicating that he could be looking for ways to create a legal status for as many as six million illegal immigrants, without any input from Congress. Sessions has been one of the most vocal opponents of Obama's plan, and on Thursday reiterated that nothing in the law allows him to take these steps.
"He can't grant them the right to work, and he really con't grant them legal status," he said. "This is a breach of the most fundamental constitutional powers, in my opinion, and Congress has got to assert itself."
One of the ideas proposed by those who want Obama to act is not to count immediate family members of foreigners who work in the U.S. against the limits on green cards that are now spelled out in U.S. law. If that change were made, foreigners who work in the U.S. and obtain a green card would automatically be allowed to allow any number of immediate family members to enter the U.S., and those family members would not reduce the number of available green cards.
Another possible idea is to "recapture" any unused green cards from prior years, and redistribute them. These ideas have sparked a legal debate over whether these sorts of changes would be allowed under current U.S. law.
With less than a week before the midterm election, Republicans are expected to win a handful of Senate seats from Democrats, and will need to defend a few GOP seats in tossup states and win a few more to control the Senate.