WASHINGTON — During a telephone town hall Tuesday evening, U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., said he supports President Donald Trump’s decision to end the program which protects 800,000 people brought into the country illegally as children.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday morning the Department of Homeland Security would not be accepting new applicants for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, though people with permits would be able to re-apply before Oct. 5. The earliest the recipients of the program would face losing their protections would be March 5, 2018.
Mooney, who began serving in January 2015, said former President Barack Obama overreached his powers when he announced DACA in June 2012.
“It’s not right to go around Congress or the Constitution because they don’t act,” Mooney said to the call’s 4,000 participants. “If Congress doesn’t act, maybe it’s because they don’t agree with it.”
In a Facebook statement, Obama said he waited for a bill from Congress, but the legislation never came.
“Because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country,” the former president said.
“We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm.”
A caller, who identified himself as Richard Kale from Wirt County, asked the congressman about his thoughts about the program.
“We got to take care of people in the United States,” Kale noted. “There’s a lot of people that need housing and they need doctors and they need everything, which (the federal government) is giving to these people, and we’re all paying for it out of our tax dollars. It’s not fair to people that are born here.”
Mooney said while there are certain conditions where people can enter the country, such as employment opportunities, the immigration laws can not be changed for one group of people.
“The reason immigrants want to come here — the reason my mother fled here from communist Cuba — is because we have rule of law,” Mooney added. “It’s a little bit unnerving for the government to say, ‘I’m going to enforce the law with you, but not with you.'”
Mooney added border protection should be the first priority for lawmakers, including Trump’s campaign promise of a wall on the United States-Mexico border.
“Not the entire border can have a wall,” he admitted. “Some of it’s mountainous, some of it has rivers, but we need border security first before there’s any talk of any kind of amnesty.”
President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday evening if lawmakers do not act on DACA, he “will revisit the issue!”
U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., and West Virginia Attorney Patrick Morrisey also showed their support for Trump’s action. The two previously announced plans to challenge U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in the 2018 midterm election as Republications
“We are a nation of laws and have a responsibility to secure our borders,” Jenkins said in a press release. “I remain firmly opposed to amnesty and am committed to ensuring our nation’s immigration policies are constitutional and lawful.”
Morrisey posted a statement on Facebook with a similar tone, calling Obama’s action “unlawful, unconstitutional, and instituted unilaterally without authority from Congress.”
“We must always stand for the rule of law,” he concluded.
— Rep. Alex Mooney (@RepAlexMooney) September 5, 2017
Tuesday marked Congress’ return to Washington, D.C., following the August recess. Lawmakers will have to raise the debt ceiling before Sept. 29 and pass a spending plan before Oct. 1, as well as pass disaster relief following Hurricane Harvey.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday he wants Congress to pass a debt ceiling plan that also provides funding for disaster relief from the storm.
There is also the issue of tax reform, which Trump pitched last week during a rally in Springfield, Missouri. The president described his plan as “simple, fair and easy to understand,” while also providing relief to lower- and middle-class families.
Trump has previously pushed for a 15 percent corporate tax rate, compared to the current rate of 35 percent.
Mooney agreed with the president that the current corporate tax rate is too high and is costing both tax revenue and jobs.
“What we’re trying to do is bring those jobs back to America,” he said. “I think that will work.”
Mooney also said it was “imperative” lawmakers balance the budget as the country approaches the debt ceiling.