Goodlatte says Obama ‘clearly exceeded his constitutional authority’

Immigration took center stage during a House Judiciary Committee hearing where legal experts debated whether or not President Barack Obama acted within his legal authority when he issued a series of executive actions on immigration. Last month, Obama used his executive powers to announce that he would defer the deportation of up to 5 million undocumented immigrants and allow them to apply for work permits. He also announced actions to strengthen the border and retaining high-skilled workers. His actions came amid gridlock in Congress over immigration reform. SEE ALSO: 5 things to know about Obama’s immigration executive actions In his opening statement, House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) called the presidents move on immigration “one of the biggest constitutional power grabs ever by a president.” He also said Obama abused the power of prosecutorial discretion simply because he’s “upset that Congress won’t change America’s immigration laws to his liking.” “President Obama has clearly exceeded his constitutional authority,” Goodlatte said. “No president has so abused and misused the power of prosecutorial discretion as has President Obama.” Goodlatte’s comments triggered several immigration advocates in the audience to protest. Some of them shouted and held signs that read “What’s your immigration solution?” and “Don’t deport my family” before they were escorted out by U.S. Capitol Police officers. Like the protestors, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said he disagreed with Goodlatte. He insisted that Obama used his authority under existing law to do what he could to fix the nation’s broken immigration system, something the Democratic congressman said Congress has failed to do. “President Obama did not change the law,” said Conyers, who is a ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee. “He acted within the law consistent with the Constitution and past precedent.” Committee members also heard testimonies from law experts over Obama’s executive actions on immigration. SEE ALSO: What should Republicans do after Obama’s immigration executive order? Jay Alan Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, said that like Obama, he supports an immigration reform with a path to citizenship. But he said he disagreed with Obama’s decision to bypass Congress and act on immigration on his own. He said those actions by the president were not only unconstitutional and unlawful, but they also violated the separation of powers. “Even with sympathy to the cause of immigration reform, impatient presidents may not violate the Constitution if they don’t get their way,” Sekulow added. Thomas H. Dupree, Jr., a former top Department of Justice official, echoed Sekulow’s sentiment. He said that while it’s true that other presidents have granted immigration relief, they haven’t done so in the same scale as Obama. He added that in issuing his executive actions, Obama essentially granted “blanket relief to a potential class of five million people.” But Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, disputed that argument and insisted that Obama’s executive actions on immigration “are well within the scope of his authority.” “He is relying on the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion which provides the Department of Homeland Security as well as every law enforcement agency in this country the authority to set enforcement priorities to target resources and to shape how the law will be implemented,” Hincapie said. Meanwhile, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calf.) noted that while the intended focus of the committee hearing was to debate whether Obama had the power to issue his executive actions, the discussion focused mainly on the president’s actions that protect millions undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Democratic congresswoman reminded members of Congress that Obama’s announced executive actions address different parts of the immigration system, including strengthening border security, increasing pay for immigration officials and changing the immigration system so that it works better for entrepreneurs. “I haven’t heard anybody complaining about those efforts of the president. No, it’s only about the families of American citizen children.” Lofgren said. “This talk of executive overreach really is about deporting, I think, the parents of U.S. citizen children, and I think it’s a darn shame.” SEE ALSO: GOP scrambles for response to Obama on immigrationThe post Goodlatte says Obama ‘clearly exceeded his constitutional authority’ appeared first on Voxxi.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said during a committee hearing Tuesday that Obama “clearly exceeded his constitutional authority” by issuing his executive actions on immigration. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Immigration took center stage during a House Judiciary Committee hearing where legal experts debated whether or not President Barack Obama acted within his legal authority when he issued a series of executive actions on immigration.

Last month, Obama used his executive powers to announce that he would defer the deportation of up to 5 million undocumented immigrants and allow them to apply for work permits. He also announced actions to strengthen the border and retaining high-skilled workers. His actions came amid gridlock in Congress over immigration reform.

SEE ALSO: 5 things to know about Obama’s immigration executive actions

In his opening statement, House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) called the presidents move on immigration “one of the biggest constitutional power grabs ever by a president.” He also said Obama abused the power of prosecutorial discretion simply because he’s “upset that Congress won’t change America’s immigration laws to his liking.”

“President Obama has clearly exceeded his constitutional authority,” Goodlatte said. “No president has so abused and misused the power of prosecutorial discretion as has President Obama.”

Goodlatte’s comments triggered several immigration advocates in the audience to protest. Some of them shouted and held signs that read “What’s your immigration solution?” and “Don’t deport my family” before they were escorted out by U.S. Capitol Police officers.

Like the protestors, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said he disagreed with Goodlatte. He insisted that Obama used his authority under existing law to do what he could to fix the nation’s broken immigration system, something the Democratic congressman said Congress has failed to do.

“President Obama did not change the law,” said Conyers, who is a ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee. “He acted within the law consistent with the Constitution and past precedent.”

Committee members also heard testimonies from law experts over Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

SEE ALSO: What should Republicans do after Obama’s immigration executive order?

Jay Alan Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, said that like Obama, he supports an immigration reform with a path to citizenship. But he said he disagreed with Obama’s decision to bypass Congress and act on immigration on his own. He said those actions by the president were not only unconstitutional and unlawful, but they also violated the separation of powers.

“Even with sympathy to the cause of immigration reform, impatient presidents may not violate the Constitution if they don’t get their way,” Sekulow added.

Thomas H. Dupree, Jr., a former top Department of Justice official, echoed Sekulow’s sentiment. He said that while it’s true that other presidents have granted immigration relief, they haven’t done so in the same scale as Obama. He added that in issuing his executive actions, Obama essentially granted “blanket relief to a potential class of five million people.”

But Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, disputed that argument and insisted that Obama’s executive actions on immigration “are well within the scope of his authority.”

“He is relying on the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion which provides the Department of Homeland Security as well as every law enforcement agency in this country the authority to set enforcement priorities to target resources and to shape how the law will be implemented,” Hincapie said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calf.) noted that while the intended focus of the committee hearing was to debate whether Obama had the power to issue his executive actions, the discussion focused mainly on the president’s actions that protect millions undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The Democratic congresswoman reminded members of Congress that Obama’s announced executive actions address different parts of the immigration system, including strengthening border security, increasing pay for immigration officials and changing the immigration system so that it works better for entrepreneurs.

“I haven’t heard anybody complaining about those efforts of the president. No, it’s only about the families of American citizen children.” Lofgren said. “This talk of executive overreach really is about deporting, I think, the parents of U.S. citizen children, and I think it’s a darn shame.”

SEE ALSO: GOP scrambles for response to Obama on immigration

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The post Goodlatte says Obama ‘clearly exceeded his constitutional authority’ appeared first on Voxxi.