Rep. Grisham: Obama Has ‘Legally Sufficient Power' to Minimize the Negative Effects' of Immigration Law

By Abigail Wilkinson | July 31, 2014 | 1:02 PM EDT

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) (AP photo)

( -- Although Congress must give its approval to expand legal immigration, President Obama has “legally sufficient power to minimize the negative effects" of federal law immigration law, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) said Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

“Article 1 of the Constitution says: ‘Congress shall have power . . .to establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization.’ Given that, does President Obama have any unilateral power to legalize illegal aliens?” asked the congresswoman.

“I do think we’re going to need Congressional approval in making sure we grant more refugee visas coming in,” Lujan Grisham responded, noting that because Congress is “not passing any bills, or passing any laws” on immigration, “every American expects the president to use the full abilities of your administration and your cabinet.”

"So it was a long answer to say that I think the president has -- and this administration -- legally sufficient power to minimize the negative effects and the restraints that they have imposed in terms of dealing with an undocumented population,” she said.

She stated that the Department of Homeland Security "often narrowly looks at what they can’t do, right, and focuses on that parameter, which means they can't do anything. So what we will do is we will detain and deport.” According to Lujan Grisham, this means all DHS does is “take into custody, detain, [and] deport.”

Rep. Lujan Grisham spoke at a news conference Tuesday on “the urgent need to act on the president’s supplemental funding request and immigration reform before the August recess,” sponsored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and the Alliance for Citizenship.