It’s not only illegal aliens who are escaping enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. Under the Obama administration’s expansive interpretation of executive authority, legal immigrants seeking citizenship through the nation’s Naturalization process are now exempt from a key part of the Oath of Allegiance.
Immigrants seeking to become citizens no longer have to pledge to “bear arms on behalf of the United States.” They can opt out of that part of the Oath. Nor do they have to cite any specific religious belief that forbids them to perform military service.
According to the Naturalization Fact Sheet on the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) website, In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, the nation welcomed 729,995 Legal Permanent Residents into full citizenship.
- Over the past decade 6.6 million have been naturalized through a process that ends with the Oath of Allegiance.
- In the decade 1980-1990, the average number completing Naturalization was only 220,000 annually, but from 1990 to 2000 that number jumped to over 500,000 annually.
- 1,050,399 new citizens were welcomed in the year 2008.
- 18.7 million immigrants are eligible to eventually become citizens, and 8.8 million already meet the 5-year residency requirement.
The pledge to help defend America was good enough for the 6.6 million immigrants naturalized since 2005 and good enough for the over 15 million naturalized since 1980, but Obama’s appointees at the USCIS think that is too much to ask of the 18.7 million estimated legal immigrants eligible today for eventual naturalization or the 750,000 who will be naturalized in the coming year.
This radical change was announced a year ago, in July of 2015. Congress did not enact the change in new legislation. There was no congressional debate, no filibuster in the US Senate, and no sit-in in the House to demand that a bill to repeal the USCIS action be brought to a vote.
No, this radical change was implemented while Congress slept. Like other Obama actions to undermine our immigration laws, the Republican-controlled Congress has not used its constitutional powers to reverse the administrative action. Thank God many states are stepping up to fill that void.
This week, the US Supreme Court let stand a federal district court ruling invalidating Obama’s unconstitutional “DAPA” amnesty.
By a 4-4 tie vote, the Supreme Court declined to review the Circuit Court’s ruling upholding the Houston district court decision. Therefore, it is now the law and Obama’s DAPA amnesty is voided. If Justice Scalia were still alive and participating in the case, it would have been a 5-4 ruling because the “swing vote,” Associate Justice Kennedy, voted with Justices Alito, Roberts and Thomas.
Where was Congress? Why did it take a lawsuit by the Governors and Attorneys General of 26 states to overturn Obama’s unconstitutional actions?
It’s true that other Presidents have made changes in the Naturalization process by administrative decree and without congressional approval. In 2002, in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attack, President George Bush by executive order expedited the naturalization process for 89,000 immigrants serving in the armed forces. While many will agree with Bush’s action and even applaud, that change should have been done by act of Congress, not a presidential executive order.
In fact, most Americans will think it extremely odd that the USCIS action with regard to the Oath of Allegiance is not illegal. But the fact is, unelected bureaucrats at the USCIS can change the wording of the Oath without approval of the people’s representatives in Congress. Strange as it sounds, the law as it stands today allows USCIS bureaucrats great leeway in managing the Naturalization process, so Obama’s actions will not be challenged in federal court.
Yet, in view of Obama’s actions, why doesn’t Congress change the law and take control of the Oath of Allegiance? So far, there is no indication that the Republican leadership will do so. If they won’t even bar Islamic terrorists from the refugee program, why should we expect them to protect the Oath of Allegiance? Some members of Congress will grumble, make speeches and issue press releases, but the Republican leadership will do nothing.
Such is the state of the nation as we approach this 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Some Americans see great irony in the British declaring their independence from the tyranny of Brussels while Americans quietly accept the new tyranny of Washington, DC.
Tom Tancredo is the founder of the Rocky Mountain Foundation and founder and co-chairman of Team America PAC.
Tom represented Colorado’s sixth congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009, and he is a former presidential candidate.
He is the author of In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America’s Border and Security.