Forty-one million dollars.
That's a serious piece of change. And it's the amount of tax revenue Ohioans stand to lose over the next five years if Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has his way.
DeWine has slapped the name of the Great State of Ohio on a Texas lawsuit seeking to stop President Barack Obama's immigration-related executive actions that will bring 5 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. The process, known as deferred action, will require unauthorized immigrants nationwide to register, undergo criminal background checks and pay taxes. Ohio stands to gain $41 million dollars in tax revenue to be paid by an estimated 82,000 undocumented Ohioans who'll qualify for the program.
That's real money; money that could relieve Ohio financial strains and be used to hire teachers, firefighters and police officers.
Why would DeWine, who has always had a pragmatic, fair-minded approach to immigration, sign onto a lawsuit that's not only frivolous, but reads more like a factually challenged press release than a well-reasoned legal complaint?
DeWine says his "decision to join the lawsuit in Texas has nothing to do with immigration policy." Rather, so he claims, "It has everything to do with preserving our Constitution's separation of powers and combatting the current administration's consistent efforts to expand presidential authority into the traditional powers of Congress to make and change federal laws."
That's some very serious-sounding stuff. The good news is none of it's true.
In fact the president is following the letter of the law -- and doing exactly what Congress has required of the administration.
Let me explain.
The Constitution requires the president to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Congress, which passes those laws has directed Obama to prioritize which undocumented immigrants should be deported. But Congress has only given the president enough resources to remove a fraction of the estimated 11 million living in the shadows, about 400,000 people per year. And since he's been president, Obama has done exactly that -- he's deported nearly half a million people a year -- earning him harsh rebuke from his supporters, some of who dubbed him "The Deporter-in-Chief."
What DeWine (and the Texas lawsuit) conveniently fail to mention is that Obama's immigration actions do not stop deportations or even slow them down. The Department of Homeland Security will continue to deport nearly a half million undocumented immigrants every year whether or not Obama offers a temporary reprieve to DREAMers and parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
Moreover -- as DeWine undoubtedly knows -- Obama's immigration actions are nothing new. Presidents of both parties have used deferred action to postpone the deportation of large groups of undocumented immigrants, including abused women, hurricane victims and refugees.
So the question is not whether Obama's immigration actions are legal (they are); it's who of the 11 million should he go after first? Does it make sense to use limited immigration enforcement resources to focus on deporting dangerous felons, national security risks and recent border crossers? Or should the president concentrate on removing DREAMers and mothers and fathers of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
The answer seems obvious to anyone concerned with the safety of Ohio communities.
Unfortunately it appears to be less obvious to DeWine. He ought to explain to Ohioans whom he'd rather see deported: a drug dealer in Cleveland, a gang member in Columbus or an undocumented mother working in the nurseries of Painesville or changing linens at a hotel in Toledo?
Does DeWine really think he's doing Ohio taxpayers a service by signing onto a lawsuit that purports to protect the Constitution yet, in effect, aims to obstruct a lawful process which will hold 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable to their communities by requiring them to register, undergo criminal background checks, and pay taxes?
Sound bites, slogans, and frivolous lawsuits aside, the reality is that the immigration action undertaken by the president is not only legal, it's damn good public policy. It will keep our borders protected by focusing more enforcement resources on border security, it will make our communities safer by getting rid of dangerous criminals and security threats, and it will keep American families together.
As a former prosecutor and U.S. senator, DeWine must know in his heart that Obama's immigration actions are unassailably legal. Sadly, he has chosen to put Republican Party politics before the citizens of Ohio.
Fortunately he does not have the last word -- Ohioans do. And they should demand that Attorney General Mike DeWine put partisan politics aside, do what's best for the people of Ohio and remove the name of our great state from the meritless lawsuit in Texas.
Originally posted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Cleveland.com