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Cruz files amendment to prevent Fast Track from changing federal immigration law
Howard Richman, 5/13/2015

When Fast-Track is voted upon, Senator Ted Cruz plans to propose an amendment that would prevent Obama from using Fast-Track power to change federal immigration law. A Texas newspaper reports:

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today filed an amendment to the Trade Act of 2015 to lock in assurances that this legislation cannot be used to change federal immigration law.

“The Obama Administration has repeatedly assured Members of Congress that there is nothing in the Trade Act of 2015 that would allow the President to unilaterally make changes to federal immigration laws,” said Sen. Cruz. “I agree, and we should put it in writing and make it binding law. I am a strong supporter of free trade, but I cannot support legislation that would allow the President to once again circumvent Congress to enact his own immigration laws. Since the Obama Administration has emphatically argued that TPA [i.e. Fast Track] will not affect immigration, it should support this amendment, which makes that promise explicit.”

The amendment states that nothing in the Trade Act of 2015 or in any trade agreement subject to the Act “shall alter or affect any law, regulation, or policy relating to immigration.”

The amendment is critical, given that the Japanese Prime Minister disclosed on April 28 that the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty that he and Obama have been negotiating is "an ambitious attempt to create a new economic sphere in which people, goods and money will flow freely within the Asia-Pacific Region." Since both Mexico and the United States would be included, this implies free flow of people between Mexico and the United States.

Cruz appears to be have fallen for Obama's semantic trick. Obama is not lying when he says that nothing in these trade treaties will allow the President to unilaterally change U.S. laws. That's not how these treaties work.

They don't amend U.S. law, they let foreign businesses sue the U.S. government in a private court system if any existing law or regulation violates the treaty. After a few billion dollars worth of fines, Congress changes the U.S. law.

According to Senator Sessions, TPP is a "living agreement," which means that participating nations can "change any of the terms of the agreement, including in controversial areas such as the entry of foreign workers and foreign employees" without congressional approval. 

If Fast-Track passes, the Senate will face a very difficult choice next year. It will not be able to amend the treaties that Obama negotiates. Those treaties will have some provisions that Republicans love (such as intellectual property protection and reduction in tariffs) and others that Republicans detest (such as unlimited immigration and climate change regulation).

If Cruz wants to protect the American people from unlimited legal immigration, he needs to vote against Fast-Track. Then, Republicans would preserve their power to amend out any detestable treaty provisions.

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Comment by Frank Kirkland, 5/15/2015:

Why should this amendment be limited to immigration policy (except to pander to his base)?  The last word of this amendment needs to be "policy."




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