The United States is counting down the hours until President Obama announces that he will use the power of the Executive Branch to push forth legislation on immigration.
The president is even going to Las Vegas to campaign for this initiative- only problem is, he thinks his own power grab is illegal.
"With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that's just not the case."
In a March 2011 town hall with the Univision Network at a local D.C. high school, someone from the audience asked whether Obama could use an executive order to halt deportations.
UNIVISION: Mr. President, my question will be as follows: With an executive order could you be able to stop deportations of the students? And if that’s so, that links to another question that we have received through Univision.com. We have received hundreds, thousands, all related to immigration.
J. Tamar, through Univision.com told us, I’m reading: What if at least you grant temporary protective status, TPS, to undocumented students. If your answer is yes, when? If no, why not?
OBAMA: First of all, temporary protective status historically has been used for special circumstances where you have immigrants to this country who are fleeing persecution in their countries. Or there’s some emergency situation in their native land that required them to come to the United States. So it would not be appropriate to use that just for a particular group that came here primarily, for example, because they were looking for economic opportunity.
With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case. Because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed. And I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know that we’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.
There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, to ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president. That does not mean, though, that we can’t make decisions, for example, to emphasize enforcement on those who’ve engaged in criminal activity. It also doesn’t mean that we can’t strongly advocate and propose legislation that would change the law in order to make it more fair, more just, and ultimately would help young people who are here trying to do the right thing and whose talents we want to embrace in order to succeed as a country.
In response to the questioner, President Obama references the "laws on the books that Congress has passed" and tells the audience that the executive branch is in charge of enforcing what Congress passes as law.
President Obama further explains that there are so many laws by Congress in place that he cannot simply "enforce" any legislation on immigration in any way that would conform to his presidential duties.
Does the president still think Congress makes enough laws for him to enforce existing precedent?