Democrat Blasts 'Anti-Minority' Republicans for Trying to Limit Obama's Authority on Deportations

By Edwin Mora | July 26, 2011 | 3:26 PM EDT

Washington ( – Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) said that legislation introduced by Republicans to suspend President Barack Obama’s authority to exercise "prosecutorial discretion" in deciding which illegal aliens to deport shows that the Republican Party is “anti-minority.” He also said Republicans want to limit Obama’s  authority because they don’t like him as president.

At a July 21 press conference on Capitol Hill, Reyes said, “What this legislation does is it takes away the discretion that is sorely needed by Customs and Border Protection -- by our president delegated down through the secretary of Homeland Security and Department of Justice -- takes that discretion away. Forever?  No. Just during the time that President Obama is in office.”

Reyes continued, “How more blatant can they be about being anti-minority? They don’t like who’s in the White House so they want to limit his authority. Well, you know what? That’s not what this country is about and I hope next year in 2012 we send a resounding message that limiting the discretion of any president is not the solution. Look in the mirror and find out what the face of America sees when they try to pass these kinds of laws, this kind of limiting legislation that tries to tie the hands of government.”

Rep. Sylvester Reyes (D-Tex.)

Reyes’s comments were in reference to HALT, the Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation Act, which was introduced on July 12 by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). The legislation would prevent the Obama administration from granting extensive de facto amnesty through administrative prioritization of deportations, also known as “prosecutorial discretion.”

Smith said of the legislation, “If the president gets his way, millions of illegal immigrants will be allowed to legally live and work in the U.S. without a vote of Congress.”

Vitter said: “The administration has now taken their amnesty push to new levels by attempting to give (Homeland Security) officials and other agencies the ability to grant amnesty, which is exactly why we’re introducing the HALT Act.”

Under the proposed legislation, President Obama’s authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion in certain deportation cases would be suspended until Jan. 21, 2013. That threshold, according to Democrats, is a blatant attack against Obama’s presidency.

Republicans introduced HALT in response to a June 17 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) memo, which directs federal immigration officials to use "prosecutorial discretion" in deciding which illegal aliens to detain and deport. It directed federal officials to prioritize certain deportations.

ICE’s intention, as the memo reveals, is to remove the worst offenders and release the other offenders, specifically victims of domestic violence and other crimes; witnesses to crimes; or people who are charged with minor traffic violations.

Also at the July 21 press conference, a group of Democrats led by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a leading Democratic voice in immigration reform, denounced the HALT legislation.