By Neil Munro - White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON — Republican Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte slammed the White House’s lax enforcement of immigration laws Thursday, but suggested that the Republican leadership wants a deal that would provide companies with more workers and would also allow younger illegal immigrants to stay in the country.
The GOP caucus doesn’t want to make a deal with President Barack Obama yet, he said, because of a “lot of mistrust of the president.”
“Congress legislates, not the executive branch, and he’s attempting to rewrite laws to suit what he perceives to be demand,” said Goodlatte, who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “It’s a mistake.”
Republicans want “zero tolerance of illegal immigration [but] today we have a measure of ‘How serious a crime have you committed before we will deport you from the United States?’” he told a Thursday meeting hosted by National Journal.
Goodlatte’s comments follow revelations over the last few weeks showing that President Back Obama has sharply reduced enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. In 2013, for example, federal immigration officials released 68,000 illegal immigrants who had committed crimes in the United States. Officials deported tens of thousands of illegals for violating criminal laws — such as theft and drug-selling — but deported less than one percent of the illegal immigrants in the country for immigration violations.
Obama’s failure to enforce the law makes it difficult for the GOP to negotiate a new immigration law, Goodlatte said.
GOP leaders are, however, now considering whether to add a measure in the emerging defense funding bill that would allow illegal immigrants to get legal permanent residency, and eventually citizenship, by joining the U.S. military, Breitbart reported.