The U.S. House Gang of Seven whittled down to five Friday, as distrust of President Barack Obama led Reps. John Carter and Sam Johnson, both Texas Republicans, to leave the bipartisan group. In a joint statement, the men said that they have no faith in Obama to enforce current or new laws.
Carter and Johnson said they have been committed to finding a solution to the nation’s immigration problems for nearly four years now and have been working diligently with their Democratic colleagues. The men said they knew it wouldn’t be easy but “rolled up our sleeves and set aside partisan politics to do what is right for our country.”
“After years of hard work and countless meetings, we have reached a tipping point and can no longer continue working on a broad approach to immigration,” they said. “We want to be clear. The problem is politics.”
The immigration working group that started as a bipartisan Gang of Eight began falling part in June when Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, walked away over a disagreement. Mario Diaz-Balart, of Florida, is the only remaining Republican member of the group working to pass the stalled bill.
Carter and Johnson cited Obama’s decision to delay parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, “with a single stroke of a pen” as one reason for their lack of faith in the nation’s chief executive.
“Instead of doing what’s right for America, President Obama time and again has unilaterally disregarded the U.S. Constitution, the letter of the law and bypassed the Congress -- the body most representative of the people -- in order to advance his political agenda,” the two men said in a joint statement. “We will not tolerate it. Laws passed by Congress are not merely suggestions, regardless of the current atmosphere in Washington. Laws are to be respected and followed by all -- particularly by the Commander-in-Chief.
“The administration’s practice of hand-picking what parts of laws they wish to enforce has irrevocably damaged our efforts of fixing our broken immigration system. If past actions are the best indicators of future behavior; we know that any measure depending on the president’s enforcement will not be faithfully executed. It would be gravely irresponsible to further empower this administration by granting them additional authority or discretion with a new immigration system. The bottom line is -- the American people do not trust the President to enforce laws, and we don’t either.”
The gang's Democratic members were waiting for approval from their Republican counterparts to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill next month. The members have missed every deadline set for introducing the bill.
Even before Carter and Johnson released their joint statement, there were early signs Friday that things were about to fall apart. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, one of the lead Democrats in the group, told the Washington Post that it was unlikely the gang would proceed with its 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill. Gutierrez said Republican members weren't ready to back the final bill, which the Illinois Democrat believes is a result of the lack of support from their leaders.
“The process is stalled,” he told the Post. “I don’t believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon.”
Carter and Johnson said they will continue working on immigration reform, and this time they will support their Republican colleagues. Currently, the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees have passed five piecemeal bills that deal with border security, interior enforcement, E-verify and workers' visas. House Republican leaders are yet to decide what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country.