GOP Warns Obama: Don't Overstep Executive Powers On Immigration

Monday, 30 Jun 2014 10:48 PM

By Newsmax Wires

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Conservatives railed at President Barack Obama's announcement Monday that he would  take executive action to reform the U.S. immigration system after hopes of passing legislation in Congress officially died.

Republican John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, said the announcement was "sad" and "disappointing"  and warned that unilateral action was not a solution.

"In our conversation last week, I told the president what I have been telling him for months: the American people and their elected officials don't trust him to enforce the law as written," Boehner said in a statement. "Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue... It is sad and disappointing that – faced with this challenge – President Obama won't work with us, but is instead intent on going it alone with executive orders that can't and won't fix these problems.

Boehner told Obama last week that his chamber would not vote on immigration reform this year, killing chances that a wide-ranging bill passed by the Senate would become law.

Republicans have seized on the Central American surge to criticize the president’s immigration policies.  Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith is warning Obama could face legal action is he goes too far on his own.

“If the president insists on enacting amnesty by executive order,” said Smith, “he will undoubtedly face a lawsuit and will find himself, once again, on the wrong side of the Constitution and the law.”

The collapse of the legislative process delivers another in a series of blows to Obama's domestic policy agenda and comes as he struggles to deal with a flood of unaccompanied minors largely from Central America who have entered the United States.

Vote Now: Do you believe the Obama administration has secured our border with Mexico? Vote Now

It also sets up a new battle with congressional Republicans, who accuse Obama of going beyond his legal authority to take executive action on issues such as gay rights and equal pay for women and men.

Obama chided House Republicans for refusing to bring immigration reform to a vote and said only legislation could provide a permanent fix to the problem.

"I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing. And in this situation, the failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security; it's bad for our economy, and it's bad for our future," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.

"America cannot wait forever for them to act. That's why today I'm beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress."

But Boehner, in his statement, fired back saying Obama caused the border crisis by his haphazard immigration policies.

"The president’s own executive orders have led directly to the humanitarian crisis along the Southern border, giving false hope to children and their families that if they enter the country illegally they will be allowed to stay," Boehner chided.

Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly also criticized Obama's actions, playing a video Monday night of Obama saying he would direct resources from the interior to the border.

"Well, why didn't you do that five years ago?" O'Reilly asked.

Obama didn't act until the "crescendo of criticism" began against him, O'Reilly said, noting that a recent joint raid with Mexican authorities freed 200 children being held against their will.

No such raids had happened previously, he said, because Obama reacts to crises rather than being proactive and preventing them.

Townhall.com's Mary Katherine Ham said Obama was following a familiar pattern.

"He gives a speech, he asks for a list of things he can do on his own," she told O'Reilly. "He says he's going to act on his own. He then makes fun of Republicans in Congress and then asks them for a bunch of stuff."

Some of Obama's ideas make sense, she said, but he trashes the people he is asking to help him.

Earlier Monday Obama directed Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to move enforcement resources from the U.S. interior to the border to promote public safety. He said he asked his team to prepare recommendations on other actions he can take unilaterally by the end of the summer.

Monday was another chapter in a long-festering test of wills between Obama and Boehner about the direction the country should go. They have battled over healthcare, deficits, government spending and gun control. Compromises have been rare and could be even more elusive if Republicans increase their majority in the House in November elections and seize control of the Senate.

Boehner inflamed tensions with the White House last week by announcing he was considering a lawsuit charging the president with overstepping his constitutional boundaries with the series of executive actions he has pursued all year.

A Boehner spokesman said the two leaders spoke in person about immigration reform last week.

"Speaker Boehner told the president exactly what he has been telling him: the American people and their elected officials don't trust him to enforce the law as written," spokesman Michael Steel said. "Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue."

Obama has pushed for years for reform that would create a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants within the United States. The U.S. Senate bill had such provisions, but Republicans in the House largely opposed them on the argument that they amounted to amnesty for people who had entered the country illegally.

His shift to executive action comes at a tricky time for the administration. The president sent a letter to Congress on Monday asking for additional resources to deal with the problem of unaccompanied minors entering the country and creating a humanitarian crisis.

Obama repeated on Monday that most of those children would be sent home.

That crisis and the death of reform legislation puts Obama in the awkward position of studying new ways to help the undocumented workers who have been in the country for years while getting tougher on juveniles who are entering now.

Not long ago the White House had held out hope that House Republicans would move on immigration reform this summer before November congressional elections. It delayed a review by the Department of Homeland Security over changes to U.S. deportation policy to give lawmakers space to pursue a legislative solution.

Many members of Congress have predicted that if legislation is not enacted this year, any new attempts would have to wait until 2017 after a new president takes office.

Vote Now: Do you believe the Obama administration has secured our border with Mexico? Vote Now

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