Rep. Issa questions legality of Obama’s immigration executive action

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    Now we get a Republican response to President Obama's immigration plans.

    California congressman Darrell Issa is the outgoing chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

    Welcome to the program, Representative Issa.

    First of all, what's your main reaction to what the president had to say?

  • REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-Calif.:

    It was well-delivered, it was passionate, but it isn't supported by law or constitutional authority.

    Since 2001, I have served on the Judiciary Committee. I have authored bills that included some of the provisions the president wants to do. I also am the author of the STEM visa, the SKILLS Act, that would have done what he said in his speech he wanted to do, but no provision will be possible, which is the best and the brightest as they cross that graduation line and get their diploma, there's nothing he can do for them if they don't fit his criteria.

    So when he says that we're going to do more for high-tech, it's not within this proposal. And, quite frankly, a 33-page report only released today by the Justice Department reaches the conclusion that he doesn't have the legal authority for what he's about to do.


    Well, the White House says that he does have the legal authority, as you know.

    Let me ask you about some of the specifics. The president is saying…


    But the White House is — Judy, the White House is not the Justice Department. And they leaked this report, in hope that we would just ignore it.

    The fact is, the Justice Department reached a conclusion they didn't have the legal authority. And they are, in fact, not spin doctors in the White House. They are the attorney general and his Justice Department. And it was authored for the dreamers, and clearly reads right on a major portion of what he's doing.


    Well, let me ask you about some of what the president is proposing.

    Specifically, he is saying, let's prioritize it, so that we deport felons ahead of, as he put it, family members, we deport gang members ahead of people who are law-abiding who are working in this country. What's wrong with that principle?


    There's absolutely nothing wrong with prioritizing.

    Every president has had priorities. President George W. Bush put gun trafficking and criminal aliens, particularly coyotes that helped facilitate that, he put them at the top of the list for U.S. attorneys to prosecute.

    There's a difference between emphasizing prosecution and saying, we will do no deportation. And let's understand that the president has been saying he wanted blanket amnesty as part of the so-called bipartisan bill in the Senate. He wanted an up-or-down vote on that, while over 180 bills never got an up-or-down vote that left the House of Representatives, some of them unanimously.

    If the president had said, I will waive amnesty, let's negotiate a comprehensive or piecemeal, either one, bill, he could have negotiated some of these points into a good piece of negotiation.


    For example, the part about putting more resources at the border, he says he's going to crack down on people trying to come across now.


    Well, you don't sink a ship and then talk about patching the hull.

    The fact is that the quantity and the amount of administration that's going to go into this proposal — and I don't want to get overly into questions, but let me just show you something. This bill, all these — practically a ream of paper, that just describes what is necessary for high-tech workers to be amended and to encourage more of those people to come here and stay here.

    When the president says it's just going to be parents who have children, the way that's going to work is going to be hugely complex. And it's going to exercise — he's going to actually have to come for billions of dollars in appropriation if he's going to do it. And it's going to take years.


    Congressman, let me just quickly ask you in our remaining seconds, what do you think Congress will do now? Will — will it allow this to go forward? Will it try to stop what the president is suggesting and proposing?


    Well, Congress is a two-part body entity.

    And, next year, it will be in the hand of Republicans. But let's understand what's really going to happen is an opportunity to come and say, I want some of these things, let's negotiate a piece of legislation that formalizes it and gives it the full faith of the American people, is now being hurt by this action.

    The fact is the president could pick up HR-2131 and today deal with high-skilled immigration and dramatically for the high-tech leaders a law. It's sitting there. It's waiting to be passed, to be passed in a lame-duck session.

    What the president is doing — and I think Speaker Boehner said it very well — is he's souring what should be an opportunity to pass legislation, very similar to what was the case under President Clinton's many years ago.




    Let's remember the president said that we have enacted. He had the House and Senate in large majorities for the first two years and never proposed a bill.

    So, let's be honest. This is an effort, just as the American people have changed the Senate from Democratic to Republican leadership, and he's souring a relationship that Mitch McConnell and Speaker Boehner should and want to have.


    Representative Darrell Issa, thank you.


    Thank you.