Shelby’s Alabama colleague, Sen. Jeff Sessions, has been the Senate’s most outspoken opponent of amnesty, holding court on the Senate floor for hours on end decrying any move that he perceives to be detrimental to American workers.
Shelby has been careful to give Sessions the space to drive the narrative on immigration, but his allies are quick to point out behind-the-scenes that he has been no less conservative on the issue from the beginning.
Shelby joined Sessions in voting against the so called Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform package last June. The bill passed 68 to 32, with 14 Republicans joining 52 Democrats in voting for it, but it did not gain any traction in the Republican-controlled House.
“I am adamantly opposed to providing amnesty to individuals who break our nation’s immigration laws and will continue to oppose any legislative proposal that endorses, supports, or includes amnesty for illegal immigrants,” Shelby told Yellowhammer.
But he saved his most pointed rhetoric for Obama’s threats to go around Congress, the nation’s law-making body, to implement amnesty through executive action.
“The President’s reported plan to circumvent Congress and unilaterally change our immigration laws through executive amnesty is both unwise and unconstitutional,” he said. “An expansion of the President’s limited authority on this issue must not be tolerated.”
At the behest of Senate Democrats, Obama decided to wait until after the November elections to make his move.
The immigration issue has become — perhaps unexpectedly — one of the defining issues of this year’s midterm elections, in which Republicans need to pickup six senate seats to retake the majority.
In Republican-leaning and swing states with 2014 senate races — such as Colorado, Iowa, Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana — Democrats have fled Obama’s executive amnesty plan, but it continues to be a millstone around their necks.
Shelby said the president’s blatant attempt to avoid the political consequences of overstepping the constitutional bounds of his office does not sit well with him.
“In a purely political move, President Obama recently announced that he will delay granting executive amnesty to illegal immigrants until after the November election to protect his party from being held accountable at the ballot box,” he said. “Instead of playing politics and ignoring our system of checks and balances, the Administration’s first priority should be to enforce our nation’s immigration laws and to secure our border.”
As we have written before, if Republicans retake the senate, Alabama will likely be the only state in the country with both of its senators chairing top committees. With Shelby and Sessions showing a united front on immigration and a host of other issues, the possibility of the Yellowhammer State having the country’s most influential senate delegation continues to increase.