The situation at the border is heartbreaking. Tens of thousands of single adults, families and children have made an incredibly dangerous journey north from countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
They are leaving theses countries because they offer too little opportunity and are mired in poverty and violence. No one begrudges them for wanting to find a better place to live.
Americans are compassionate and generous. The American people always have extended and always will extend a helping hand to every corner of the world. And even as the number of illegal border crossings has exploded over the past year, we have treated these individuals with dignity and respect.
Today we have on our southern border a multi-faceted crisis facing the entire country. But President Obama is not interested in solving the humanitarian problem... or the security problem, or the legal problem, or the fiscal problem.
He is interested only in solving a personal, political problem: avoiding blame for this crisis which he himself has created.
For years, the president’s clear message to the world has been that he is not interested in enforcing or fixing America’s immigration laws.
He is unconcerned about strengthening our border, improving our entry-exit system, or bolstering workplace verification.
He has made no effort to fix our visa system so that we have an efficient process to serve immigrants trying in good faith to obey the law.
And he has ignored serious immigration reforms that would solve these problems.
So what has the president been doing on immigration? Systematically undermining the rule of law by ignoring laws on the books, taking action he has no authority to take, and blaming others for the consequent failures.
And that’s what has led us here today, considering what hypothetical actions Congress can take to address the real crisis the president has created.
But Mr./Madam President, the solutions to this immediate crisis - and our longer-term immigration needs as well - begin with the president finally enforcing the law.
There is no amount of money Congress can spend... there is no new law that can solve this crisis if the president and the leadership of his party continue down their lawless path.
There are several steps the president can take - immediately – that do not require any action by Congress or another dime from the American people.
He can stop abusing “prosecutorial discretion.” He can end the DACA program which provides administrative amnesty and work permits to those who entered the U.S. illegally as minors.
He can close the door to any further expansion of DACA to millions of additional adults. And he can signal his commitment to this solution by quickly returning those who enter the U.S. illegally to their home countries.
But by announcing to the world that he will not enforce laws requiring DHS to process and return those who come here unlawfully, the president is encouraging hundreds of thousands of children and adults to make a very dangerous journey to come to the United States illegally.
He is encouraging families to pay coyotes controlled by drug cartels thousands of dollars to smuggle their children into the U.S.
That is truly the humanitarian crisis.
And the President’s threats to widen the scope of DACA are only going to make that crisis worse. That is why I agree with my friends Ted Cruz, Jeff Sessions, David Vitter, Jim Inhofe and Mike Johanns that, at the very least, we must take steps to prevent the president from providing any more executive amnesty.
Now, I understand the desire for members of Congress to want to pass some kind of legislation. Members want to be able to go home to their constituents over the August recess armed with a talking point that suggests they’ve done something about the border crisis.
But I would argue that the bill before the Senate today is just a distraction from the true cause of and solution to the crisis.
Congress could send the president a bill with billions of dollars in aid and multiple policy changes, but none of these will work unless the President makes a commitment to enforce our laws and secure our southern border.
As with so many bills Congress takes up these days, this legislation does not solve the American people’s problem – it only solves Washington’s problem.
President Obama already has the authority to correct his failed policy, restore the rule of the law to our immigration system, and solve the crisis on the border. He just doesn’t want to, and the American people are paying the price.
One of the reasons we have a Constitution of separated powers is that when presidents try to be legislators too... they tend to be bad at both jobs.
The crisis on the border is of the president’s own making, and its solution is already in his own power.
I stand ready to work with the president and his party to craft solutions to these problems. We all do. But until President Obama enforces the laws he is sworn to administer, those solutions will remain out of reach.
For all the good intentions, all the good will, all the compromises in the world... Congress cannot do its job until the president finally does his.