22 Senate Republicans express ‘grave concerns’ on deportation review


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks with reporters following the weekly policy luncheon for Senate Republicans on April 8. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Updated 1:50 p.m.

Twenty-two Republican senators expressed "grave concerns" Thursday with the Obama administration's ongoing review of immigration policy and the deportation of undocumented immigrants, and suggested that any attempts to change current policy would further suspend enforcement of laws currently on the books.

The letter comes as The Washington Post has reported that the administration is likely to take steps in coming weeks to ease the pace of deportations for some illegal immigrants while also considering much broader changes if GOP lawmakers continue to block immigration reforms. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson met with several members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus before the congressional recess to being discussing the administration's plans.

In their letter, the Republican senators say that any such changes "would represent a near complete abandonment of basic immigration enforcement and discard the rule of law and the notion that the United States has enforceable borders."

"Clearly, the urgent task facing your administration is to improve immigration enforcement, not to look for new ways to weaken it," the letter added.

The letter is co-signed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and several other conservative Republicans, including Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), David Vitter (La.), John Boozman (Ark.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), James Risch (Idaho), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Ted Cruz (Texas.), Deb Fisher (Neb.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Orrin G. Hatch (Utah.), Mike Lee (Utah) and John Hoeven (N.D.).

But the letter is not signed by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) or Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the four Republican members of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" who negotiated the Senate-passed immigration bill last year. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who helped strike a last-minute deal on border security, also is not a co-signer. But Hoeven helped broker that border security deal and still opted to sign the letter.

News of the letter was first reported by Politico. A copy of the letter appears below:

Letter signed by 22 Senate Republicans to President Obama regarding immigration reform.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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